Polymer-Mediated Self-Assembly of Nanoparticles


Vincent M. Rotello Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts

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Polymer self-assembly of nanoparticles yields stabilized metal and semiconductor nanocomposites as well as provides access to structured nanoscale materials. The properties of these materials can be tuned by varying the size and shape of the metal cluster as well as by altering the composition of the monolayer that covers the particles. Furthermore, the functionality and structure of the polymer can be modified, which lends an additional element of control to the entire assembly process. This “bottom-up” approach provides a methodology that is complementary to “top-down” lithographic methods, providing access to structures smaller and with greater 3-dimensional (3-D) control than is possible through sophisticated lithographic techniques such as electron-beam lithography. Presently, one of the major obstacles facing nanotechnology is the successful integration of these two general approaches. Multiscale engineering of this sort would allow for the fabrication of intricate functional devices with atomic level structural control that manifests and spans itself into the macroscopic world.

One of the key initial goals in polymer-mediated nanoparticle assembly is the design of catalytic nanocomposites. We have therefore designated a section within this chapter solely to polymer–nanoparticle assemblies as applied to catalytic systems. The remaining sections describe the use of polymers to assemble nanoparticles into interesting and potentially useful architectures. Because of lack of space, this chapter is not an exhaustive review of the literature but instead contains selected examples, which we feel highlight many of the different methodologies that have been employed for the assembly of polymer-based nanoparticle composites. When necessary the reader will be directed to more in-depth articles and reviews that contain information pertinent to the area.