Research Area #3: The Materials Science of Nanoparticles as “Programmable Atom Equivalents”


Image: Nanoparticles coated with a dense monolayer of DNA can act as “programmable atom equivalents,” where bonding between particles is dictated by the sequence of the DNA strands used. Shown above, a PAE crystal is epitaxially grown on top of lithographically patterned nano-posts which have been functionalized with DNA.

DNA-coated nanoparticles are a powerful synthon for materials development, as nanoparticles possess size, shape, and composition dependent physical properties, and the sequence dependent recognition properties of DNA allow one to precisely organize particles into well-defined crystalline lattices with nanometer-scale precision. The ability to generate lattices with precise control over both the identity of the particles as well as their positions in three-dimensions has implications for developing materials for applications in areas ranging from photonics to catalysis to energy generation and storage.

In this research area, we utilize both DNA-based particle assembly techniques and top-down lithographic methodologies to explore fundamental concepts of materials science (such as thermodynamics and kinetics of epitaxial deposition, thickness-induced melting suppression, lattice strain, defect structure, dewetting, etc.) using these nanoscale “atom equivalents”. We also utilize these building blocks to generate materials where we can precisely study structure-property relationships (such as asymmetric reflectivity, shape-induced plasmonic response, etc.) in structures that have nanometer scale ordering in order to develop materials for the aforementioned applications.

Key Concepts: Biomaterials, Nanotechnology, Self-Assembly, Nanolithography, Soft Matter, Structure/Property Relationships
Potential Applications: Fundamental Materials Science Principles at the Nanoscale, Plasmonic/Photonic Properties of Materials

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