A research team from New York University has created a new method of producing ordered structures of microparticles in different materials. This method holds promise in enhancing the arrangement and color of optical materials employed in computer screens in addition to other consumer products.
The findings of the research were published as an “Editors’ Choice” article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).
The main focus of the research is improving the assembly of colloids - small particles suspended within a fluid medium. Colloidal dispersions are formed up of materials like porcelain, glass, gelatin, milk and paint, yet there is hardly any scope to create new materials.
DNA-coated colloids are said to show particular promise as they can be combined with each other. In such cases, DNA serves as the glue for forming a range of new colloidal structures. However, previous works have showed that these particles attach to each other, producing chaotic or inflexible configurations and hence uneven results.
The new method involves application of DNA coating to colloids to form new compounds with ordered structures following crystallization. Particularly, it included a synthetic strategy—click chemistry, a decade-old technique to efficiently attach DNA. Scientists induced a chemical reaction that enables the molecular components to stick with each other in a specific manner,a method sometimes compared to connecting Legos.
In a previous paper published in the Nature Communications journal earlier this year, the research team highlighted the successful implementation of this method. However, at that time, only one type of particle could be processed by this method. The research team, in the JACS study demonstrated that the method is capable of manipulating five additional types of materials in varied combinations.
The scientists said that their invention is similar to a builder capable of building a house with the help of concrete, brick, metal and glass instead on only wood.
If you want to program and create structures at microscopic levels, you need to have the ability for a particle to move around and find its optimal position. Our research shows that this be done and be achieved with multiple materials, all resulting in several different types of compounds.
David Pine, a professor of physics at NYU and chair of the Chemical and Bioengineering Department at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering
The research was carried out by researchers at NYU’s Molecular Design Institute and Center for Soft Matter Research and at South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University. Other authors of the paper were Yufeng Wang of the Center for Soft Matter Research and Molecular Design Institute; Yu Wang and Xiaolong Zheng of the Molecular Design Institute; Etienne Ducrot of the Center for Soft Matter Research; Myung-Goo Lee and Gi-Ra Yi of Sungkyunkwan University’s School of Chemical Engineering; and Marcus Weck of the Molecular Design Institute.
The research was partly supported by from the U.S. Army Research Office (W911NF- 510 10-1-0518), the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2014S1A2A2028608), and by the National Science Foundation’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Program (DMR-0820341).