Researchers create gold nanoscale stars

Metallic nanomaterials have interesting optical properties called plasmonic,

says Chun-Long Chen, one of the researchers. In particular, it is already known that star-shaped metal nanomaterials can be useful in detecting pathogenic bacteria.

To create these striking nanoparticles, the team carefully tuned the sequences of peptoids, a protein-like programmable synthetic polymer.

“Peptoids offer a unique advantage inachieving control at the molecular level,” the researchers say. They hold fine gold particles together, forming five-fold doubled Au particles in the shape of a star with five regular points, while stabilizing the crystal structure faces.

Gold nanoparticles in the shape of a star

Scientists from the Pacific NorthwestDepartment of Energy National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Washington (UW) used advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to "see" star formation in solution at the nanoscale. This method provided a deep mechanistic understanding of how peptoids drive the process and revealed the role of particle attachment and face stabilization in shape control.

Assembling your nanoscale constellation,the researchers then used molecular dynamics simulations to capture a level of detail that cannot be obtained from experiments and explain why specific peptoids controlled the formation of ideal stars.

"You need to have an understanding on the molecularlevel to form this beautiful stellar particle with interesting plasmonic properties,” Chen said. Modeling can build a theoretical understanding of why certain peptoids create certain shapes.

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