Project 20: Janus Gold Nanoplates for Supramolecular Assembly (Prof. Martin O'Toole, BioEng)

The development of useful nano- and microscale supramolecular assemblies requires technological advances in the design and fabrication of innovative building blocks capable of guided and reversible self-assembly. The synthesis of Janus Gold Nanoplates (JGN), where a flat triangular nanoplate of gold is coated with distinct molecular monolayers on each of its two major facets, would produce a widely applicable geometric subunit that can be customized in its specificity and function within a supramolecular framework. Additionally, the plasmonic heating capabilities of JGN provides a built-in mechanism by which application of near infrared light can be used to thermally disrupt non-covalent interactions associated with the JGN and cause reversal or reconstruction of the supramolecular assembly. The goal of this REU project will be to produce and utilize JGN to coat micro-scale objects for use in constructing supramolecular architectures. The successful completion of the project will have the student synthesize gold nanoplates, coat them with multi-functional organic coatings, and employ them in supramolecular design. The student will learn nanoparticle synthesis and best practices for handling them in the lab, as well as tools for nanoparticle characterization, including electron microscopy and other advanced microscopic techniques, particle sizing techniques, and assays for determining the success of their coatings.