A general and robust strategy for the synthesis of nearly monodisperse colloidal nanocrystals

Nat Nanotechnol. 2013 Jun;8(6):426-31. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2013.85. Epub 2013 Jun 2.


Colloidal nanocrystals exhibit a wide range of size- and shape-dependent properties and have found application in myriad fields, incuding optics, electronics, mechanics, drug delivery and catalysis, to name but a few. Synthetic protocols that enable the simple and convenient production of colloidal nanocrystals with controlled size, shape and composition are therefore of key general importance. Current strategies include organic solution-phase synthesis, thermolysis of organometallic precursors, sol-gel processes, hydrothermal reactions and biomimetic and dendrimer templating. Often, however, these procedures require stringent experimental conditions, are difficult to generalize, or necessitate tedious multistep reactions and purification. Recently, linear amphiphilic block co-polymer micelles have been used as templates to synthesize functional nanocrystals, but the thermodynamic instability of these micelles limits the scope of this approach. Here, we report a general strategy for crafting a large variety of functional nanocrystals with precisely controlled dimensions, compositions and architectures by using star-like block co-polymers as nanoreactors. This new class of co-polymers forms unimolecular micelles that are structurally stable, therefore overcoming the intrinsic instability of linear block co-polymer micelles. Our approach enables the facile synthesis of organic solvent- and water-soluble nearly monodisperse nanocrystals with desired composition and architecture, including core-shell and hollow nanostructures. We demonstrate the generality of our approach by describing, as examples, the synthesis of various sizes and architectures of metallic, ferroelectric, magnetic, semiconductor and luminescent colloidal nanocrystals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Colloids / chemical synthesis
  • Colloids / chemistry*
  • Micelles
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Nanotechnology*
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Solutions / chemistry
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Surface Properties


  • Colloids
  • Micelles
  • Polymers
  • Solutions
  • Solvents