Polydopamine-based concentric nanoshells with programmable architectures and plasmonic properties†
Nanoshells, classically comprising gold as the metallic component and silica as the dielectric material, are important for fundamental studies in nanoplasmonics. They also empower a myriad of applications, including sensing, energy harvesting, and cancer therapy. Yet, laborious preparation precludes the development of next-generation nanoshells with structural complexity, compositional diversity, and tailorable plasmonic behaviors. This work presents an efficient approach to the bottom-up assembly of concentric nanoshells. By employing polydopamine as the dielectric material and exploiting its intrinsic adhesiveness and pH-tunable surface charge, the growth of each shell only takes 3–4 hours at room temperature. A series of polydopamine-based concentric nanoshells with programmable nanogap thickness, elemental composition (gold and silver), and geometrical configuration (number of layers) is prepared, followed by extensive structural characterization. Four of the silver-containing nanostructures are newly reported. Systematic investigations into the plasmonic properties of concentric nanoshells as a function of their structural parameters further reveal multiple Fano resonances and local-field “hot spots”, infrequently reported plasmonic features for individual nanostructures fabricated using bottom-up wet chemistry. These results establish materials design rules for engineering complex plasmon-based systems originating from the integration of multiple plasmonic elements into defined locations within a compact nanostructure.