Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Thompson D, Hermes JP, Quinn AJ, Mayor M
Acs Nano
Scanning the potential energy surface for synthesis of dendrimer-wrapped gold clusters: design rules for true single-molecule nanostructures.
Optional Fields
The formation of true single-molecule complexes between organic ligands and nanoparticles is challenging and requires careful design of molecules with size, shape, and chemical properties tailored for the specific nanoparticle. Here we use computer simulations to describe the atomic-scale structure, dynamics, and energetics of ligand-mediated synthesis and interlinking of 1 nm gold clusters. The models help explain recent experimental results and provide insight into how multidentate thioether dendrimers can be employed for synthesis of true single-ligand-nanoparticle complexes and also nanoparticle-molecule-nanoparticle "dumbbell" nanostructures. Electronic structure calculations reveal the individually weak thioether-gold bonds (325 ± 36 meV), which act collectively through the multivalent (multisite) anchoring to stabilize the ligand-nanoparticle complex (∼7 eV total binding energy) and offset the conformational and solvation penalties involved in this "wrapping" process. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the dendrimer is sufficiently flexible to tolerate the strained conformations and desolvation penalties involved in fully wrapping the particle, quantifying the subtle balance between covalent anchoring and noncovalent wrapping in the assembly of ligand-nanoparticle complexes. The computed preference for binding of a single dendrimer to the cluster reveals the prohibitively high dendrimer desolvation barrier (1.5 ± 0.5 eV) to form the alternative double-dendrimer structure. Finally, the models show formation of an additional electron transfer channel between nitrogen and gold for ligands with a central pyridine unit, which gives a stiff binding orientation and explains the recently measured larger interparticle distances for particles synthesized and interlinked using linear ligands with a central pyridine rather than a benzene moiety. The findings stress the importance of organic-inorganic interactions, the control of which is central to the rational engineering and eventual large-scale production of functional building blocks for nano(bio)electronics.
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