Molecules can copolymerize to form longer composite chains; it turns out that nanoparticles called colloidal particles can also copolymerize to make hybrid nanostructures. The fact that these reactions occur in a very similar manner is not obvious, but this could be used to carry out fundamental studies of copolymerization reactions. However, colloidal polymers are primarily useful for the development of highly complex nanosystems. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, a team of Chinese, Canadian, and American researchers has presented a report about the copolymerization of gold nanorods of various sizes as well as gold and palladium nanorods.
Polymers made of metal nanoparticles are particularly interesting because of their plasmons – quantized charge carrier density oscillations resulting from the collective excitation of free electrons to plasma oscillations. Long chains of metal nanoparticles known as plasmonic polymers display strong interactions between the plasmons of the individual building blocks.
Their optical properties can be controlled by means of factors like the degree of polymerization, the size of the nanoparticles, or the distance between particles. Copolymer chains made from nanoparticles with different sizes, shapes and compositions are even more interesting as they offer another degree of freedom in tuning the properties (and potentially, leading to new properties) of plasmonic polymers. Potential applications could include smaller computer chips, improved nanoantennas and sensors, and improved optical data processing.
The researchers from Jilin University (China), the University of Toronto (Canada), and the University of North Carolina (USA) have now developed methods for applying strategies from molecular copolymerization (the polymerization of different monomers together) to the co-assembly of nanorods of varying sizes and composition. Led by Kun Liu and Eugenia Kumacheva, the team uses gold nanorods with polystyrene chains on the ends as building blocks.
Addition of water to the organic solvent containing a suspension of the nanorods causes the polystyrene ends, which are only poorly soluble in water, to bond tightly together, connecting the nanorods into long polymer chains. This approach was extended to the co-assembly of random and block copolymers of gold nanorods of different length as well as random copolymers of gold and palladium nanorods. (Random copolymers contain different monomers in a random order; in a block copolymer the polymer chain contains larger domains of either one or the other monomer.)
The researchers were able to establish a model for the reactions that confirmed and extended established kinetic theories for molecular stepwise copolymerization reactions. The colloidal polymers obtained also provide an excellent model system for the fundamental investigation of plasmonic properties such as special modes resulting from the asymmetry of nanostructures with irregularly distributed components.
About the Author
Dr. Eugenia Kumacheva is a University Professor at the University of Toronto with a major appointment in the Department of Chemistry and cross-appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME). Her main specialty is the chemistry, physics, and materials science of soft matter, with the focus on polymers, nanoscience, and microfluidics. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and recipient of a Humboldt Research Award and a Fellowship from the Killam Foundation. In 2009 she was awarded the L'Oreal-Unesco "Women in Science" Award given to five women in the world, one from each continent.
Author: Eugenia Kumacheva, University of Toronto (Canada), http://www.chem.utoronto.ca/staff/EK/index.htm
Title: Copolymerization of Metal Nanoparticles: A Route to Colloidal Plasmonic Copolymers
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201309718
Dr. Eugenia Kumacheva | Angewandte Chemie
Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology
10.02.2016 | Arizona State University
Epilepsy at the Molecular Level
10.02.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.
Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...
Researchers at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between the Wbp2 gene and progressive hearing loss. The scientists report that the loss of Wbp2 expression leads to progressive high-frequency hearing loss in mouse as well as in two clinical cases of children with deafness with no other obvious features. The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
The scientists have shown that hearing impairment is linked to hormonal signalling rather than to hair cell degeneration. Wbp2 is known as a transcriptional...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
10.02.2016 | Life Sciences
10.02.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
10.02.2016 | Information Technology