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Nature. 2005 Dec 1;438(7068):651-4.

Chemically tailorable colloidal particles from infinite coordination polymers.

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Department of Chemistry and Institute for Nanotechnology, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3113, USA.


Micrometre- and nanometre-sized particles play important roles in many applications, including catalysis, optics, biosensing and data storage. Organic particles are usually prepared through polymerization of suitable monomers or precipitation methods. In the case of inorganic materials, particle fabrication tends to involve the reduction of a metal salt, or the controlled mixing of salt solutions supplying a metal cation and an elemental anion (for example, S2-, Se2-, O2-), respectively; in some instances, these methods even afford direct control over the shape of the particles produced. Another class of materials are metal-organic coordination polymers, which are based on metal ions coordinated by polydentate organic ligands and explored for potential use in catalysis, gas storage, nonlinear optics and molecular recognition and separations. In a subset of these materials, the use of organometallic complexes as ligands (so-called metalloligands) provides an additional level of tailorability, but these materials have so far not yet been fashioned into nano- or microparticles. Here we show that simple addition of an initiation solvent to a precursor solution of metal ions and metalloligands results in the spontaneous and fully reversible formation of a new class of metal-metalloligand particles. We observe initial formation of particles with diameters of a few hundred nanometres, which then coalesce and anneal into uniform and smooth microparticles. The ease with which these particles can be fabricated, and the ability to tailor their chemical and physical properties through the choice of metal and organic ligand used, should facilitate investigations of their scope for practical applications.


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