How Structure-Directing Agents Control Nanocrystal Shape: Polyvinylpyrrolidone-Mediated Growth of Ag Nanocubes

Xin Qi, Tonnam Balankura, Ya Zhou, Kristen Ann Fichthorn

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The importance of structure-directing agents (SDAs) in the shape-selective synthesis of colloidal nanostructures has been well documented. However, the mechanisms by which SDAs actuate shape control are poorly understood. In the polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)-mediated growth of {100}-faceted Ag nanocrystals, this capability has been attributed to preferential binding of PVP to Ag(100). We use molecular dynamics simulations to probe the mechanisms by which Ag atoms add to Ag(100) and Ag(111) in ethylene glycol solution with PVP. We find that PVP induces kinetic Ag nanocrystal shapes by regulating the relative Ag fluxes to these facets. Stronger PVP binding to Ag(100) leads to a larger Ag flux to Ag(111) and cubic nanostructures through two mechanisms: enhanced Ag trapping by more extended PVP films on Ag(111) and a reduced free-energy barrier for Ag to cross lower-density films on Ag(111). These flux-regulating capabilities depend on PVP concentration and chain length, consistent with experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7711-7717
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 11 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering

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