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Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 24;4:3848. doi: 10.1038/srep03848.

Assembly of nanoions via electrostatic interactions: ion-like behavior of charged noble metal nanoclusters.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260.


The assembly of ultrasmall metal nanoclusters (NCs) is of interest to both basic and applied research as it facilitates the determination of cluster structures and the customization of cluster physicochemical properties. Here we present a facile and general approach to assemble noble metal NCs by selectively inducing electrostatic interactions between negatively-charged metal NCs and divalent cations. The charged metal NCs, which have well-defined sizes, charges and structures; and behave similarly to multivalent anions, can be considered as nanoions. These nanoions exhibit step-like assembly behavior when interacting with the counter cations - assembly only occurs when the solubility product (Ksp) between the carboxylate ions on the NC surface and the divalent cations is exceeded. The assembly here is distinctively different from the random aggregation of colloidal particles by counter ions. The nanoions would assemble into fractal-like monodisperse spherical particles with a high order of regularity that mimic the assembly of ionic crystals.

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