Electron-Equivalent Valency through Molecularly Well-Defined Multivalent DNA

Ho Fung Cheng, Shunzhi Wang, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Oligonucleotide-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs), also known as "programmable atom equivalents"(PAEs), have emerged as a class of versatile building blocks for generating colloidal crystals with tailorable structures and properties. Recent studies have shown that, at small size and low DNA grafting density, PAEs can also behave as "electron equivalents"(EEs), roaming through and stabilizing a complementary PAE sublattice. However, it has been challenging to obtain a detailed understanding of EE-PAE interactions and the underlying colloidal metallicity because there is inherent polydispersity in the number of DNA strands on the surfaces of these NPs; thus, the structural uniformity and tailorability of NP-based EEs are somewhat limited. Herein, we report a strategy for synthesizing colloidal crystals where the EEs are templated by small molecules, instead of NPs, and functionalized with a precise number of DNA strands. When these molecularly precise EEs are assembled with complementary NP-based PAEs, X-ray scattering and electron microscopy reveal the formation of three distinct "metallic"phases. Importantly, we show that the thermal stability of these crystals is dependent on the number of sticky ends per EE, while lattice symmetry is controlled by the number and orientation of EE sticky ends on the PAEs. Taken together, this work introduces the notion that, unlike conventional electrons, EEs that are molecular in origin can have a defined valency that can be used to influence and guide specific phase formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1752-1757
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 3 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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