Constitutionally selective dynamic covalent nanoparticle assembly

19 May 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The future of materials chemistry will be defined by our ability to precisely arrange components that have considerably larger dimensions and more complex compositions than conventional molecular or macromolecular building blocks. However, exerting structural and constitutional control in the assembly of nanoscale entities presents a considerable challenge. Dynamic covalent nanoparticles are emerging as an attractive category of reaction-enabled solution-processable nanosized building block through which the rational principles of molecular synthetic chemistry can be extended into the nanoscale. From a mixture of two hydrazone-based dynamic covalent nanoparticles with complementary reactivity, specific molecular instructions trigger selective assembly of intimately mixed heteromaterial (Au–Pd) aggregates or materials highly enriched in either one of the two core materials. In much the same way as complementary and orthogonal reactivity is exploited in synthetic molecular chemistry, chemospecific nanoparticle-bound reactions dictate building block connectivity, and kinetic regioselectivity regulates the detailed composition of the materials produced. Selectivity, and hence aggregate composition, is sensitive to several system parameters. By characterizing the nanoparticle-bound reactions in isolation, kinetic models of the multiscale assembly network can be constructed. Despite ignoring heterogeneous physical processes such as aggregation and precipitation, these simple kinetic models successfully link the underlying molecular events with the nanoscale assembly outcome, guiding rational optimization to maximize selectivity for each of three assembly pathways. With such predictive construction strategies, we can anticipate that reaction-enabled nanoparticles can become fully incorporated in the lexicon of synthetic chemistry, establishing a synthetic science that incorporates molecular and nanoscale components with equal proficiency.


nanoparticle assembly
dynamic covalent chemistry
gold nanoparticles
palladium nanoparticles
surface chemistry

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
General experimental procedures; detailed synthetic methods and characterization for molecular compounds and nanoparticles; detailed experimental procedures for nanoparticle assembly experiments; supplementary electron microscopy images; results for supplementary assembly experiments and controls; description and extended discussion of kinetic models and simulation results.


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