Tailoring molecular specificity toward a crystal facet: a lesson from biorecognition toward Pt{111}

Nano Lett. 2013 Feb 13;13(2):840-6. doi: 10.1021/nl400022g. Epub 2013 Jan 23.


Surfactants with preferential adsorption to certain crystal facets have been widely employed to manipulate morphologies of colloidal nanocrystals, while mechanisms regarding the origin of facet selectivity remain an enigma. Similar questions exist in biomimetic syntheses concerning biomolecular recognition to materials and crystal surfaces. Here we present mechanistic studies on the molecular origin of the recognition toward platinum {111} facet. By manipulating the conformations and chemical compositions of a platinum {111} facet specific peptide, phenylalanine is identified as the dominant motif to differentiate {111} from other facets. The discovered recognition motif is extended to convert nonspecific peptides into {111} specific peptides. Further extension of this mechanism allows the rational design of small organic molecules that demonstrate preferential adsorption to the {111} facets of both platinum and rhodium nanocrystals. This work represents an advance in understanding the organic-inorganic interfacial interactions in colloidal systems and paves the way to rational and predictable nanostructure modulations for many applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemical synthesis
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Particle Size
  • Peptides / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Phenylalanine / chemistry
  • Platinum / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Peptides
  • Phenylalanine
  • Platinum