Monodisperse nanoparticles for catalysis and nanomedicine
The growth and breadth of nanoparticle (NP) research now encompasses many scientific and technologic fields, which has driven the want to control NP dimensions, structures and properties. Recent advances in NP synthesis, especially in solution phase synthesis, and characterization have made it possible to tune NP sizes and shapes to optimize NP properties for various applications. In this review, we summarize the general concepts of using solution phase chemistry to control NP nucleation and growth for the formation of monodisperse NPs with polyhedral, cubic, octahedral, rod, or wire shapes and complex multicomponent heterostructures. Using some representative examples, we demonstrate how to use these monodisperse NPs to tune and optimize NP catalysis of some important energy conversion reactions, such as the oxygen reduction reaction, electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction, and cascade dehydrogenation/hydrogenation for the formation of functional organic compounds under greener chemical reaction conditions. Monodisperse NPs with controlled surface chemistry, morphologies and magnetic properties also show great potential for use in biomedicine. We highlight how monodisperse iron oxide NPs are made biocompatible and target-specific for biomedical imaging, sensing and therapeutic applications. We intend to provide readers some concrete evidence that monodisperse NPs have been established to serve as successful model systems for understanding structure–property relationships at the nanoscale and further to show great potential for advanced nanotechnological applications.