Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Most Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Ever Made by Design: Possible applications include controlling light, capturing pollutants, delivering therapeutics

The most complex crystal designed and built from nanoparticles. Left: An electron microscope image of a slice of the structure (Northwestern University). Right: A matching slice from a simulation of the structure (University of Michigan).
The most complex crystal designed and built from nanoparticles. Left: An electron microscope image of a slice of the structure (Northwestern University). Right: A matching slice from a simulation of the structure (University of Michigan).

Abstract:
•New crystal nanostructures are far more complex than others
•Tour de force demonstration of controlling nanoparticle shape and connections
•Researchers use DNA in smart way to build the complex crystal structures

Most Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Ever Made by Design: Possible applications include controlling light, capturing pollutants, delivering therapeutics

Evanston, IL | Posted on March 2nd, 2017

The most complex crystal designed and built from nanoparticles has been reported by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. The work demonstrates that some of nature’s most complicated structures can be deliberately assembled if researchers can control the shapes of the particles and the way they connect using DNA.

“This is a tour de force demonstration of what is possible when one harnesses the chemistry of DNA and combines it with nanoparticles whose shapes encourage a particular crystal structure,” said Chad A. Mirkin, the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

Nanotechnology promises to bring materials together in new ways, forging new capabilities by design. One potential application for crystals built of nanoparticles, such as these newly reported ones, is the control of light -- nanoparticles interact well with light waves because they are similar in size. This could lead to materials that can change colors or patterns on command or block certain wavelengths of light, while transmitting or amplifying others. New types of lenses, lasers and even Star Trek-like cloaking materials are possible.

“This work shows that nanoparticle crystals of extraordinary complexity are possible with DNA technology, once one begins to exploit particle shape,” said Sharon C. Glotzer, the John W. Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering at U-M. “And, it’s a great example of what can be achieved by experimentalists and simulators teaming up.”

The study, titled “Clathrate Colloidal Crystals,” will be published March 3 in the journal Science. Mirkin and Glotzer are co-corresponding authors of the paper.

In chemistry, clathrates are known for their chambers that can house small molecules. They have been used for capturing pollutants from the environment, for example. The nanoparticle clusters also leave room for cargo, which the authors suggest could be useful for storing, delivering and sensing materials for environmental, medical diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

While natural materials exhibit a dizzying array of crystal structures, most nanotechnology labs struggle to get past simple designs. The structures produced by Haixin Lin, now a postdoctoral fellow in Mirkin’s lab, are far more interesting. The new structures are composed of clusters of up to 42 particles, forming larger polyhedral, such as the great dodecahedron. These clusters connect into cage-like crystal structures called clathrates.

Still, the story isn’t the crystal itself: it’s how the crystal came to be. Mirkin’s group has pioneered many structures through the use of DNA strands as a sort of smart glue, linking nanoparticles together in a particular way. The particle is both a building block and a template that directs bonding interactions. Meanwhile, Glotzer’s group has championed the role of nanoparticle shape in guiding the assembly of crystal structures through computer simulation.

“Chad’s group got the idea of exploring new phases by looking at predictions we had made,” Glotzer said. “One day, I got a phone call from him. ‘We just got these incredible structures!’ he said. And he texted me micrograph after micrograph -- they just kept popping up. He said, we need to figure out a way to definitively assign their structures.”

The electron microscope images, or micrographs, showed complex crystalline structures that formed in large part thanks to the shape of the gold nanoparticles. The triangular bipyramidal shape, like two flattened tetrahedrons stuck together at their bases, was similar to a shape Glotzer’s group predicted would form a quasicrystal. Quasicrystals are prized in the field of nanoassembly because they are as complex as crystals get.

Lin’s shape had just the right angles to make clathrate structures, which often turn up in molecular systems that form quasicrystals. But to do so, they needed strands of DNA attached to their sides at just the right length.

Lin systematically made the gold bipyramids of consistent size and shape, with edge lengths of 250 nanometers -- half the wavelength of blue light. He then modified them with different length sequences of DNA. When the DNA strands were too short, the nanoparticles made disordered, ill-defined structures.

When longer strands produced exotic patterns in the electron microscope images, Lin brought the results to Mirkin, who was both thrilled and intrigued.

“These are stunning -- no one has made such structures before,” said Mirkin, director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology.

It was clear they had made phases never observed before, but getting the structure accurately identified was essential. After Mirkin alerted Glotzer at U-M, Sangmin Lee and Michael Engel 3-D printed Lin’s bipyramids and glued them together to explore how they might make the structures in the electron micrographs. Lee is a doctoral student in chemical engineering, and Engel was then an assistant research scientist, both in Glotzer’s group.

Once they saw how the shapes fit together, they hypothesized the clathrate structures. To confirm their suspicions, they built a computer model of the hypothesized clathrates from bipyramids and compared it to the Northwestern micrographs. It was a perfect match.

As a definitive test, Lee and Matthew Spellings, also a doctoral student in chemical engineering at U-M, developed a molecular model of the DNA-linked nanoparticles. Lee carried out simulations to confirm that the particles would indeed form clathrate structures.

“To really know for sure, we had to run simulations that mimicked the conditions Haixin used in the lab to see if a disordered fluid of DNA-linked bipyramids would assemble into the Northwestern crystals,” Glotzer said. “Once we saw the computer crystals, I knew we had nailed it.”

Mirkin is director of the research group that invented the chemistry for conjugating DNA and nanoparticles and a pioneer of the concept of programmable colloidal crystallization with nucleic acids. In 1996, he introduced the concept of using nanoparticles as atoms and synthetic DNA -- the blueprint of life -- as a chemically programmable bond to make designer materials based upon the ability of the particles to recognize one another through sequences immobilized on their surfaces. Mirkin has been experimentally studying the role of particle shape in colloidal crystal formation for the past two decades. He is also a professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering, and materials science and engineering.

Glotzer is nationally recognized for groundbreaking computer simulations demonstrating the important role of shape in nanoparticle self-assembly. She leads the research group that discovered the enormous diversity and complexity of colloidal crystals possible from simple polyhedral shapes. Glotzer is also a professor of material science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, and physics.

The study was supported as part of the Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (grant no. DE-SC0000989).

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
MEDIA CONTACTS:
Megan Fellman
Northwestern University
847-491-3115


Katherine McAlpine
University of Michigan
734-763-4386


Chad Mirkin
847-414-4623


Sharon Glotzer
734-615-6296

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Download article:

Related News Press

News and information

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Nanometrics to Participate in the 6th Annual NYC Investor Summit 2017 November 16th, 2017

Crystallography

3-D-printed jars in ball-milling experiments June 29th, 2017

Novel nozzle saves crystals: Double flow concept widens spectrum for protein crystallography March 17th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Biophysicists propose new approach for membrane protein crystallization March 8th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

EC Project Aims at Creating and Commercializing Cyber-Physical-System Solutions November 14th, 2017

Nanobiotix presented new clinical and pre-clinical data confirming NBTXR3’s significant potential role in Immuno-Oncology at SITC Annual Meeting November 14th, 2017

Leti Joins DARPA-Funded Project to Develop Implantable Device for Restoring Vision November 9th, 2017

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects: In vitro study verifies method for remotely triggering release of cancer drugs November 8th, 2017

Possible Futures

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Demonstrates Industry-Leading 112G Technology for Next-Generation Connectivity Solutions: High bandwidth, low power SerDes IP portfolio enables ‘connected intelligence’ in data centers and networking applications November 15th, 2017

Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures: Forgeries and product piracy are detrimental to society and industry -- 3-D microstructures can increase security -- KIT researchers develop innovative fluorescent 3-D stru November 15th, 2017

Self Assembly

Physicists gain new insights into nanosystems with spherical confinement: Enormous potential for the targeted delivery of pharmaceutical agents and the creation of tailored nanoparticles July 27th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Nanobiotix presented new clinical and pre-clinical data confirming NBTXR3’s significant potential role in Immuno-Oncology at SITC Annual Meeting November 14th, 2017

Arrowhead to Present at 29th Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference November 14th, 2017

A new way to mix oil and water: Condensation-based method developed at MIT could create stable nanoscale emulsions November 8th, 2017

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects: In vitro study verifies method for remotely triggering release of cancer drugs November 8th, 2017

Optical computing/Photonic computing

Practical superconducting nanowire single photon detector with record detection efficiency over 90 percent November 9th, 2017

Metal-silicone microstructures could enable new flexible optical and electrical devices: Laser-based method creates force-sensitive, flexible microstructures that conduct electricity November 1st, 2017

Researchers bring optical communication onto silicon chips: Ultrathin films of a semiconductor that emits and detects light can be stacked on top of silicon wafers October 23rd, 2017

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Discoveries

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures: Forgeries and product piracy are detrimental to society and industry -- 3-D microstructures can increase security -- KIT researchers develop innovative fluorescent 3-D stru November 15th, 2017

Materials/Metamaterials

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

A new way to mix oil and water: Condensation-based method developed at MIT could create stable nanoscale emulsions November 8th, 2017

TUBALL nanotube-based concentrates recognised as the most innovative raw material for composites by JEC Group November 7th, 2017

Announcements

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Nanometrics to Participate in the 6th Annual NYC Investor Summit 2017 November 16th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures: Forgeries and product piracy are detrimental to society and industry -- 3-D microstructures can increase security -- KIT researchers develop innovative fluorescent 3-D stru November 15th, 2017

Environment

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica: all-in-one nanomaterial for energy, environment and health November 4th, 2017

Nano-sized gold particles have been shaped to behave as clones in biomedicine November 3rd, 2017

Electrostatic force takes charge in bioinspired polymers November 2nd, 2017

How harmful are nano-copper and anti-fungal combinations in the waterways? October 27th, 2017

Nanobiotechnology

Nanobiotix presented new clinical and pre-clinical data confirming NBTXR3’s significant potential role in Immuno-Oncology at SITC Annual Meeting November 14th, 2017

Arrowhead to Present at 29th Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference November 14th, 2017

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects: In vitro study verifies method for remotely triggering release of cancer drugs November 8th, 2017

Age-old malaria treatment found to improve nanoparticle delivery to tumors: Nanomedicine researchers find new use for 70-year-old drug November 7th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

Practical superconducting nanowire single photon detector with record detection efficiency over 90 percent November 9th, 2017

Metal-silicone microstructures could enable new flexible optical and electrical devices: Laser-based method creates force-sensitive, flexible microstructures that conduct electricity November 1st, 2017

Nanoparticles with pulse laser controlled antibacterial properties October 26th, 2017

Research partnerships

EC Project Aims at Creating and Commercializing Cyber-Physical-System Solutions November 14th, 2017

Leti Joins DARPA-Funded Project to Develop Implantable Device for Restoring Vision November 9th, 2017

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects: In vitro study verifies method for remotely triggering release of cancer drugs November 8th, 2017

Ames Laboratory, UConn discover superconductor with bounce October 25th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project