University of Michigan researchers have discovered a way to self-assemble nanoparticles into wires, sheets, shells and other unusual structures using sticky patches that make the particles group themselves together in programmed ways. This method could be used to fabricate new materials and devices for nanotechnology.
Using computer simulation of model particles, Zhenli Zhang, U-M research fellow in chemical engineering, and Sharon Glotzer, U-M associate professor in chemical engineering, studied the self-assembly of particles with sticky molecular "patches" on their surfaces---discrete interaction sites that cause particles to stick together at just the right places to make the grouping organized. The paper, "Self Assembly of Patchy Particles," appeared in Nano Letters this month.
The results of the simulations showed that if surfaces of particles could be patterned with patches of molecules, they could make the particles assemble into different shapes. The trick, according to the researchers, is using patches that are strongly directional and attract and repel specific parts of other particles, much like proteins do.
Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
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