Critical undercooling in DNA-Mediated nanoparticle crystallization

Matthew N. O'brien, Keith A. Brown, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The nucleation of DNA-functionalized nanoparticle superlattices is observed to exhibit a temperature hysteresis between melting (superlattice dissociation) and freezing (particle association) transitions that allows for the study of nucleation thermodynamics. Through detailed study of the assembly of these particles, which can be considered programmable atom equivalents (PAEs), we identify this hysteresis as critical undercooling?a phase transition phenomenon related to a thermodynamic barrier to nucleation. The separable nature of the DNA bonding elements and nanoparticle core enables the PAE platform to pose unique questions about the microscopic dependencies of critical undercooling and, ultimately, to control the nucleation pathway. Specifically, we find that the undercooling required to initiate nucleation increases as the nanoparticle coordination number increases (number of particles to which a single particle can bind).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1368
Number of pages6
JournalACS nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2016


  • Crystallization
  • DNA
  • DNA melting
  • Nanoparticles
  • Undercooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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