Polyelemental nanoparticle libraries

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Science  24 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6293, pp. 1565-1569
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8402

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Multimetal nanoparticle synthesis

Multicomponent nanoparticles can be difficult to synthesize. Rather than mixing in one type of particle, the compounds often separate and form distinct particles. Using dip-pen lithography, Chen et al. show how adding reactants to very small volumes forces the reactants to form single particles containing various combinations of five different transition metal ions. Scanning transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy revealed the shapes of the nanoparticles and how metallic composition varied within them. For example, the quinary particle containing gold, silver, cobalt, copper, and nickel consisted of three domains of binary alloys.

Science, this issue p. 1565


Multimetallic nanoparticles are useful in many fields, yet there are no effective strategies for synthesizing libraries of such structures, in which architectures can be explored in a systematic and site-specific manner. The absence of these capabilities precludes the possibility of comprehensively exploring such systems. We present systematic studies of individual polyelemental particle systems, in which composition and size can be independently controlled and structure formation (alloy versus phase-separated state) can be understood. We made libraries consisting of every combination of five metallic elements (Au, Ag, Co, Cu, and Ni) through polymer nanoreactor–mediated synthesis. Important insight into the factors that lead to alloy formation and phase segregation at the nanoscale were obtained, and routes to libraries of nanostructures that cannot be made by conventional methods were developed.

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