Researchers have developed the first theoretical model of the self-assembly of nanocubes that have been coated with polymers, including DNA and have shown exciting possibilities for experimentally programming self-assembled structures. While spherical nanoparticles can align in any direction, nanocubes will only align with their faces oriented in certain ways. Polymer-coated nanocubes, however, have the potential to arrange themselves differently than either uncoated nanocubes or spherical nanoparticles. When grafted with DNA, the results show the possibility of the cubes assembling through the interactions of complementary DNA strands. Varying the length of the DNA strands also impacts how the nanocubes will assemble. Thus, with DNA you can encode information on the cubes about how to organize themselves, providing a more precise way to self-assemble nanostructures. The model is able to predict the structures that will form under various conditions. Materials consisting of assembled hairy nanocubes, are promising as materials for photovoltaics, as fuel cell cathodes and as catalytic materials.
Self-Assembly and Crystallization of Hairy (F-Star) and DNA-Grafted Nanocube