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Step-Growth Polymerization of Inorganic Nanoparticles

Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 197-200
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189457

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Abstract

Self-organization of nanoparticles is an efficient strategy for producing nanostructures with complex, hierarchical architectures. The past decade has witnessed great progress in nanoparticle self-assembly, yet the quantitative prediction of the architecture of nanoparticle ensembles and of the kinetics of their formation remains a challenge. We report on the marked similarity between the self-assembly of metal nanoparticles and reaction-controlled step-growth polymerization. The nanoparticles act as multifunctional monomer units, which form reversible, noncovalent bonds at specific bond angles and organize themselves into a colloidal polymer. We show that the kinetics and statistics of step-growth polymerization enable a quantitative prediction of the architecture of linear, branched, and cyclic self-assembled nanostructures; their aggregation numbers and size distribution; and the formation of structural isomers.

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