Soft nanohand grabs a growing nanoparticle†
Precise macromolecular recognition and self-sorting are essential in biological systems to maintain life. Herein, we report the self-assembly between one single dendritic macromolecule with discrete molecular weight and one single gold nanoparticle (Au NP) during the in situ growth of the Au NP. This process resembles an artificial, organic, and soft nanohand picking up a growing inorganic hard nanoparticle of a particular size (∼1.4 nm). Discrete 1 : 1 organic–inorganic hybrid nanostructures based on four finger-like dendritic macromolecules with different anchors have been investigated with their ability to wrap up a Au NP of different sizes. Both experimental and theoretical studies demonstrate that the dendrons with different anchoring groups can control the nucleation and growth, and stabilized the sizes of Au NPs. These results highlight the importance of the dendron's anchoring groups in the gold nucleation step before the small gold cluster grows into a Au NP and is then firmly wrapped within the whole dendron. These results provide the fundamental understanding of soft nanomachinery on sorting out nanosized products of particular size and shape.