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Self-assembly techniques are powerful and efficient methods for the synthesis of nanoscale materials. Using these techniques and their combination with other bottom-up fabrication processes, materials with hierarchical features can be produced with form and function in multiple length scales. We synthesize multifunctional nanoparticles through surfactant-assisted noncovalent interactions using nanoparticle building blocks. Self-assembly of these nano-building blocks results in functional materials that exhibit well-defined morphologies and hierarchical architectures for a wide range of applications. Hierarchically structured porphyrin nanocrystals can be synthesized through surfactant micelle-confined noncovalent interactions of photoactive porphyrins. We can amplify the intrinsic advantages of individual photoactive porphyrins by engineering them into well-defined active nanostructures. Through kinetic control, these nanocrystals exhibit precisely defined size, shape, and spatial arrangement of the individual porphyrins, which facilitates intermolecular mass and energy transfer. These self-assembly techniques provide remarkable flexibility to design morphologies and architectures that produce desirable properties for practical applications including photocatalysis, photodegradation, and phototherapy.
Porphyrins are vital pigments involved in biological energy transduction processes. Their abilities to absorb light, then convert it to energy, have raised the interest of using porphyrin nanoparticles as photosensitizers in photodynamic therapy. A recent study showed that self- assembled porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles can selectively destroy tumor cells, but detection of the cellular uptake of porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles was limited to imaging microscopy. Here we developed a novel method to rapidly identify porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles using Atmospheric Solids Analysis Probe-Mass Spectrometry (ASAP-MS). ASAP-MS can directly analyze complex mixtures without the need for sample preparation. Porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles were vaporized using heated nitrogen desolvation gas, and their thermo-profiles were examined to identify distinct mass- to-charge (M/Z) signatures. HeLa cells were incubated in growth media containing the nanoparticles, and after sufficient washing to remove residual nanoparticles, the cell suspension was loaded onto the end of ASAP glass capillary probe. Upon heating, HeLa cells were degraded and porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles were released. Vaporized nanoparticles were ionized and detected by MS. The cellular uptake of porphyrin-silica composite nanoparticles was identified using this ASAP-MS method.
Controlling microscopic morphology of energetic materials is of significant interest for the improvement of their performance and production consistency. As an important insensitive high explosive material, triaminotrinitrobenzene (TATB) has attracted tremendous research effort for military grade explosives and propellants. In this study, a new, rapid and inexpensive synthesis method for monodispersed TATB microparticles based on micelle-confined precipitation was developed. Surfactant with proper hydrophilic-lipophilic balance value was found to be critical to the success of this synthesis. The morphology of the TATB microparticles can be tuned between quasi-spherical and faceted by controlling the speed of recrystallization.
A new quantum dot synthesis method based on metallic-block copolymer precursors was developed. The synthesis produced CdS QDs assembled into chains. This method provides a new model for the study of 1D QD chains to determine its effect on charge transport and optoelectronic coupling. This synthesis method was readily extended to other semiconductor materials including PbS and perovskites producing QDs of various shapes. It evidenced further promise of this synthesis method to assist in the assembly, shape and size control of various nanomaterials
Low dimensional lead halide perovskite particles are of tremendous interest due to their size-tunable band gaps, low exciton binding energy, high absorption coefficients, outstanding quantum and photovoltaic efficiencies. Herein we report a new solution-based synthesis of stabilized Cs4PbBr6 perovskite particles with high luminescence. This method requires only mild conditions and produces colloidal particles that are ideal for highly efficient solution-based device fabrications. The synthesized microstructures not only display outstanding luminescence quantum yield but also long term stability in atmospheric conditions. Partial halide substitutions were also demonstrated to extend photoluminescence spectra of the perovskite particles. This convenient synthesis and optical tunability of Cs4PbBr6 perovskite particles will be advantageous for future applications of optoelectronic advices.
In an effort to utilize their unique photoactive properties, porphyrin monomers were assembled into tetragonal microparticles by a surfactant-assisted neutralization method through the cooperative interactions between the porphyrin building blocks including π-π stacking, J-aggregation and metal-ligand coordination. Electron microscopy characterization in combination with x-ray diffraction confirmed the three-dimensional ordered tetragonal microstructures with stable crystalline frameworks and well defined external surface morphology. Optical absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy revealed enhanced absorbance properties as compared with the raw porphyrin material, favourable for chromophore excitation and energy transport. With active and responsive optical properties, these new porphyrin microparticles look to serve as promising components for a wide range of applications including sensing, diagnostics, solar cells, and optoelectronic devices.
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