Biological building blocks (i.e., proteins) are encoded with the information of target structure into the chemical and morphological patches, guiding their assembly into the levels of functional structures that are crucial for living organisms. Learning from nature, researchers have been attracted to the artificial analogues, “patchy particles,” which have controlled geometries of patches that serve as directional bonding sites. However, unlike the abundant studies of micron-scale patchy particles, which demonstrated complex assembly structures and unique behaviors attributed to the patches, research on patchy nanoparticles (NPs) has remained challenging. In the present chapter, we discuss the recent understandings on patchy NP design and synthesis strategies, and physical principles of their assembly behaviors, which are the main factors to program patchy NP self-assembly into target structures that cannot be achieved by conventional non-patched NPs. We further summarize the self-assembly of patchy NPs under external fields, in simulation, and in kinetically controlled assembly pathways, to show the structural richness patchy NPs bring. The patchy NP assembly is novel by their structures as well as the multicomponent features, and thus exhibits unique optical, chemical, and mechanical properties, potentially aiding applications in catalysts, photonic crystals, and metamaterials as well as fundamental nanoscience.
Part of the book: Self-Assembly of Nanostructures and Patchy Nanoparticles