Symmetry-Breaking Dendrimer Synthons in Colloidal Crystal Engineering with DNA

Max E. Distler, Kaitlin M. Landy, Kyle J. Gibson, Byeongdu Lee, Steven Weigand, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breaking symmetry in colloidal crystals is challenging due to the inherent chemical and structural isotropy of many nanoscale building blocks. If a non-particle component could be used to anisotropically encode such building blocks with orthogonal recognition properties, one could expand the scope of structural and compositional possibilities of colloidal crystals beyond what is thus far possible with purely particle-based systems. Herein, we report the synthesis and characterization of novel DNA dendrimers that function as symmetry-breaking synthons, capable of programming anisotropic and orthogonal interactions within colloidal crystals. When the DNA dendrimers have identical sticky ends, they hybridize with DNA-functionalized nanoparticles to yield three distinct colloidal crystals, dictated by dendrimer size, including a structure not previously reported in the field of colloidal crystal engineering, Si2Sr. When used as symmetry-breaking synthons (when the sticky ends deliberately consist of orthogonal sequences), the synthesis of binary and ternary colloidal alloys with structures that can only be realized through directional interactions is possible. Furthermore, by modulating the extent of shape anisotropy within the DNA dendrimers, the local distribution of the nanoparticles within the crystals can be directed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-850
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 18 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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