Nanotechnology is growing in popularity as the properties of such small objects can be both interesting and controllable. Producing some forms of nanotechnologies, specifically nanocrystals, can be difficult though, because the chemical reactions involved tend to be very sensitive. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology however, have found that polymer structures can be used for the reactions and actually make the process much more robust.
The polymer structures are actually star-shaped block co-polymer structures, consisting of a beta-cyclodextrin core with up to 21 linear block co-polymer arms stretching out from it. With the proper co-polymer arms, the researchers found the structures worked as chemical reactors, which ions could enter and transform into nanocrystals. Different combinations of polymers caused the resulting nanoparticles to have different properties, such as if they dissolve in organic solvents or in water, the latter of which is important for biomedical applications. The researchers also discovered that controlling the ratio of solvents the polymer structures are dissolved in for this technique allowed them to control the uniformity of the produced nanoparticles.
The resulting nanocrystals from this method have been shown to be stable for as long as two years so far, which is much longer than other nanoparticle production methods that use similar polymer structures. Now the researchers are investigating if more complicated nanocrystals can be made using their technique, and if it supports particles with special geometries, such as rods.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology