Anisotropically branched metal nanostructures
Metal nanostructures display a multitude of technologically useful properties that can be tailored through fine-tuning of certain parameters, such as size, shape and composition. In many cases, the shape or morphology of metal nanostructures plays the most crucial role in the determination of their properties and their suitability in specific applications. In this tutorial review, we provide a summary of recent research that centers on metal nanostructures having anisotropically branched morphologies. The branched structural features that are exhibited by these materials endow them with unique properties that can be utilized in many important applications. The formation of branched architectures can be achieved in solution through a variety of synthetic strategies, four of which are highlighted in this review and these are: (1) seedless growth, (2) seeded growth, (3) templated growth, and (4) chemical etching. The usefulness of these anisotropically branched metal nanostructures in the areas of plasmonics, catalysis and biomedicine is also presented.