Salt Mediated Self-Assembly of Poly(ethylene Glycol)-Functionalized Gold Nanorods

Although challenging, assembling and orienting non-spherical nanomaterials into two- and three-dimensional (2D and 3D) ordered arrays can facilitate versatile collective properties by virtue of their shape-dependent properties that cannot be realized with their spherical counterparts. Here, we report on the self-assembly of gold nanorods (AuNRs) into 2D films at the vapor/liquid interface facilitated by grafting them with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). Using surface sensitive synchrotron grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) and specular X-ray reflectivity (XRR), we show that PEG-AuNRs in aqueous suspensions migrate to the vapor/liquid interface in the presence of salt, forming a uniform monolayer with planar-to-surface orientation. Furthermore, the 2D assembled PEG functionalized AuNRs exhibit short range order into rectangular symmetry with side-by-side and tail-to-tail nearest-neighbor packing. The effect of PEG chain length and salt concentration on the 2D assembly are also reported.