In this paper, we describe the use of weakly interacting DNA linkages to assemble nanoparticles into defined clusters. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) were synthesized and functionalized with thiol modified single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and hybridized with ssDNA linkers of a defined length (L). The self-assembly kinetics were altered by manipulating interparticle energetics through changes to linker length, rigidity, and sequence. The linker length regulated the hybridization energy between complementary AuNPs, were longer L increased adhesion, resulting in classical uncontrollable aggregation. In contrast, L of six complementary bases decreased adhesion and resulting in slower nucleation that promoted small cluster formation, the growth of which was studied at two assembly temperatures. Results indicated that a decrease in temperature to 15 oC increased cluster yield with L6 as compared to 25 oC. Finally, the clusters were separated from unassembled AuNPs by sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation (UC) and studied via UV-visible spectrophotometry (UV-vis), dynamic light scattering (DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Supporting Figures documenting assembly kinetics, DNA denaturation temperatures, and cluster morphologies.