We report on the use of binary mixtures of oppositely charged gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and spherical polyelectrolyte brushes (SPBs), consisting of a polystyrene core onto which long polystyrene sulfonate chains are grafted, as a simple model system to investigate the influence of directional interactions on self-assembly. We demonstrate that the mixing ratio, i.e., the number of AuNPs per SPB, has a profound influence on self-assembly. In particular we report on the formation of giant hollow fibers, and present a thorough characterization of these nanostructures. We speculate that the adsorption of a few AuNPs on the SPBs appears to direct the tubular self-assembly, and discuss the analogy to the case of modified proteins such as tubulin under the action of nucleotides.
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