Issue 4, 2011

Electrostatics at the nanoscale


Electrostatic forces are amongst the most versatile interactions to mediate the assembly of nanostructured materials. Depending on experimental conditions, these forces can be long- or short-ranged, can be either attractive or repulsive, and their directionality can be controlled by the shapes of the charged nano-objects. This Review is intended to serve as a primer for experimentalists curious about the fundamentals of nanoscale electrostatics and for theorists wishing to learn about recent experimental advances in the field. Accordingly, the first portion introduces the theoretical models of electrostatic double layers and derives electrostatic interaction potentials applicable to particles of different sizes and/or shapes and under different experimental conditions. This discussion is followed by the review of the key experimental systems in which electrostatic interactions are operative. Examples include electroactive and “switchable” nanoparticles, mixtures of charged nanoparticles, nanoparticle chains, sheets, coatings, crystals, and crystals-within-crystals. Applications of these and other structures in chemical sensing and amplification are also illustrated.

Graphical abstract: Electrostatics at the nanoscale

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Article information

Article type
Review Article
20 Sep 2010
17 Nov 2010
First published
14 Feb 2011

Nanoscale, 2011,3, 1316-1344

Electrostatics at the nanoscale

D. A. Walker, B. Kowalczyk, M. O. de la Cruz and B. A. Grzybowski, Nanoscale, 2011, 3, 1316 DOI: 10.1039/C0NR00698J

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