Diamond family of nanoparticle superlattices

Science  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6273, pp. 582-586
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2080

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Controlled colloid bonding using DNA

Colloidal particles can act as analogs of atoms for studying crystallization and packing behavior, but they don't naturally bond together the way atoms do. Short strands of DNA are one versatile way to link together colloidal particles (see the Perspective by Tao). Kim et al. designed a series of gold colloids with DNA ligands that reversibly bound to or released neighboring particles via DNA strands that opened or closed hairpin loops. Liu et al. devised a set of DNA strands that pack into origami structures. Inside each structure were strands that cage a gold nanoparticle. These were further linked to other uncaged nanoparticles to assemble a diamond-like structure. Changing the strand design yielded a wide range of sparsely packed colloidal crystals.

Science, this issue p. 561, p. 579; see also p. 582


Diamond lattices formed by atomic or colloidal elements exhibit remarkable functional properties. However, building such structures via self-assembly has proven to be challenging because of the low packing fraction, sensitivity to bond orientation, and local heterogeneity. We report a strategy for creating a diamond superlattice of nano-objects via self-assembly and demonstrate its experimental realization by assembling two variant diamond lattices, one with and one without atomic analogs. Our approach relies on the association between anisotropic particles with well-defined tetravalent binding topology and isotropic particles. The constrained packing of triangular binding footprints of truncated tetrahedra on a sphere defines a unique three-dimensional lattice. Hence, the diamond self-assembly problem is solved via its mapping onto two-dimensional triangular packing on the surface of isotropic spherical particles.

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