Charged nanoparticles as supramolecular surfactants for controlling the growth and stability of microcrystals

Bartlomiej Kowalczyk, Kyle J.M. Bishop, Istvan Lagzi, Dawei Wang, Yanhu Wei, Shuangbing Han, Bartosz A. Grzybowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


Microcrystals of desired sizes are important in a range of processes and materials, including controlled drug release, production of pharmaceutics and food, bio-and photocatalysis, thin-film solar cells and antibacterial fabrics. The growth of microcrystals can be controlled by a variety of agents, such as multivalent ions, charged small molecules, mixed cationic-anionic surfactants, polyelectrolytes and other polymers, micropatterned self-assembled monolayers, proteins and also biological organisms during biomineralization. However, the chief limitation of current approaches is that the growth-modifying agents are typically specific to the crystalizing material. Here, we show that oppositely charged nanoparticles can function as universal surfactants that control the growth and stability of microcrystals of monovalent or multivalent inorganic salts, and of charged organic molecules. We also show that the solubility of the microcrystals can be further tuned by varying the thickness of the nanoparticle surfactant layers and by reinforcing these layers with dithiol crosslinks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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