skip to main content


Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 2102245

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. We report a new design of polymer phenylacetylene (PA) ligands and the ligand exchange methodology for colloidal noble metal nanoparticles (NPs). PA-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) can bind to metal NPs through acetylide (M-CC-R) that affords a high grafting density. The ligand−metal interaction can be switched between σ bonding and extended π backbonding by changing grafting conditions. The σ bonding of PEG−PA with NPs is strong and it can compete with other capping ligands including thiols, while the π backbonding is much weaker. The σ bonding is also demonstrated to improve the catalytic performance of Pd for ethanol oxidation and prevent surface absorption of the reaction intermediates. Those unique binding characteristics will enrich the toolbox in the control of colloidal surface chemistry and their applications using polymer ligands. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 15, 2025
  2. We summarize recent advances in the design of hybrid nanostructures through the combination of synthetic polymers and plasmonic nanoparticles (NPs). We categorize the synthetic methods of those polymer-coated metal NPs into two main strategies: direct encapsulation and chemical grafting, based on how NPs interact with polymers. In direct encapsulation, NPs with hydrophobic ligands are physically encapsulated into polymer micelles, primarily through hydrophobic interactions. We discuss strategies for controlling the loading numbers and locations of NPs within polymer micelles. On the other hand, polymer-grafted NPs (PGNPs) have synthetic polymers as ligands chemically grafted on NPs. We highlight that polymer ligands can asymmetrically coat metal NPs through hydrophobicity-driven phase segregation using homopolymers, BCPs and blocky random copolymers. This review provides insights into the methodologies and mechanisms to design new nanostructures of polymers and NPs, aiming to enhance the understanding of this rapidly evolving field. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025
  3. We report a facile method to prepare polymer-grafted plasmonic metal nanoparticles (NPs) that exhibit pH-responsive surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The concept is based on the use of pH- responsive polymers, such as poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH), as multi- dentate ligands to wrap around the surface of NPs instead of forming polymer brushes. Upon changing the solvent quality, the grafted pH-responsive polymers would drive reversible aggregation of NPs, leading to a decreased interparticle distance. This creates numerous hot spots, resulting in a secondary enhancement of SERS as compared to the SERS from discrete NPs. For negatively charged PAA-grafted NPs, the SERS response at pH 2.5 showed a secondary enhancement of up to 104-fold as compared to the response for discrete NPs at pH 12. Similarly, positively charged PAH-grafted AuNPs showed an oppo- site response to pH. We demonstrated that enhanced SERS with thiol-containing and charged molecular probes was indeed from the pH-driven solubility change of polymer ligands. Our method is different from the conventional SERS sensors in the solid state. With pH-responsive polymer-grafted NPs, SERS can be performed in solution with high reproducibility and sensitivity but without the need for sample pre-con- centration. These findings could pave the way for innovative designs of polymer ligands for metal NPs where polymer ligands do not compromise interparticle plasmon coupling. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 3, 2025
  4. We report the use of polymer N -heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) to control the microenvironment surrounding metal nanocatalysts, thereby enhancing their catalytic performance in CO 2 electroreduction. Three polymer NHC ligands were designed with different hydrophobicity: hydrophilic poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO–NHC), hydrophobic polystyrene (PS–NHC), and amphiphilic block copolymer (BCP) (PEO- b -PS–NHC). All three polymer NHCs exhibited enhanced reactivity of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) during CO 2 electroreduction by suppressing proton reduction. Notably, the incorporation of hydrophobic PS segments in both PS–NHC and PEO- b -PS–NHC led to a twofold increase in the partial current density for CO formation, as compared to the hydrophilic PEO–NHC. While polymer ligands did not hinder ion diffusion, their hydrophobicity altered the localized hydrogen bonding structures of water. This was confirmed experimentally and theoretically through attenuated total reflectance surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation, demonstrating improved CO 2 diffusion and subsequent reduction in the presence of hydrophobic polymers. Furthermore, NHCs exhibited reasonable stability under reductive conditions, preserving the structural integrity of AuNPs, unlike thiol-ended polymers. The combination of NHC binding motifs with hydrophobic polymers provides valuable insights into controlling the microenvironment of metal nanocatalysts, offering a bioinspired strategy for the design of artificial metalloenzymes. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  5. Given the continuous and excessive CO 2 emission into the atmosphere from anthropomorphic activities, there is now a growing demand for negative carbon emission technologies, which requires efficient capture and conversion of CO 2 to value-added chemicals. This review highlights recent advances in CO 2 capture and conversion chemistry and processes. It first summarizes various adsorbent materials that have been developed for CO 2 capture, including hydroxide-, amine-, and metal organic framework-based adsorbents. It then reviews recent efforts devoted to two types of CO 2 conversion reaction: thermochemical CO 2 hydrogenation and electrochemical CO 2 reduction. While thermal hydrogenation reactions are often accomplished in the presence of H 2 , electrochemical reactions are realized by direct use of electricity that can be renewably generated from solar and wind power. The key to the success of these reactions is to develop efficient catalysts and to rationally engineer the catalyst–electrolyte interfaces. The review further covers recent studies in integrating CO 2 capture and conversion processes so that energy efficiency for the overall CO 2 capture and conversion can be optimized. Lastly, the review briefs some new approaches and future directions of coupling direct air capture and CO 2 conversion technologies as solutions to negative carbon emission and energy sustainability. 
    more » « less
  6. We report a new design of polymer-patched gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with controllable interparticle interactions in terms of their direction and strength. Patchy AuNPs (pAuNPs) are prepared through hydrophobicity-driven surface dewetting under deficient ligand exchange conditions. Using the exposed surface on pAuNPs as seeds, a highly controllable growth of AuNPs is carried out via seed-mediated growth while retaining the size of polymer domains. As guided by ligands, these pAuNPs can self-assemble directionally in two ways along the exposed surface (head-to-head) or the polymer-patched surface of pAuNPs (tail-to-tail). Control of the surface asymmetry/coverage on pAuNPs provides an important tool in balancing interparticle interactions (attraction vs. repulsion) that further tunes assembled nanostructures as clusters and nanochains. The self-assembly pathway plays a key role in determining the interparticle distance and therefore plasmon coupling of pAuNPs. Our results demonstrate a new paradigm in the directional self-assembly of anisotropic building blocks for hierarchical nanomaterials with interesting optical properties. 
    more » « less