The nature and implications of uniformity in the hierarchical organization of nanomaterials

Matthew N. O'Brien, Matthew R. Jones, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


In this Perspective, we present a framework that defines how to understand and control material structure across length scales with inorganic nanoparticles. Three length scales, frequently discussed separately, are unified under the topic of hierarchical organization: atoms arranged into crystalline nanoparticles, ligands arranged on nanoparticle surfaces, and nanoparticles arranged into crystalline superlattices. Through this lens, we outline one potential pathway toward perfect colloidal matter that emphasizes the concept of uniformity. Uniformity is of both practical and functional importance, necessary to increase structural sophistication and realize the promise of nanostructured materials. Thus, we define the nature of nonuniformity at each length scale as a means to guide ongoing research efforts and highlight potential problems in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11717-11725
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 18 2016


  • Colloidal crystal
  • Dispersity
  • Hierarchy
  • Nanomaterial
  • Uniformity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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