Polymer-guided assembly of inorganic nanoparticles
The self-assembly of inorganic nanoparticles is of great importance in realizing their enormous potentials for broad applications due to the advanced collective properties of nanoparticle ensembles. Various molecular ligands (e.g., small molecules, DNAs, proteins, and polymers) have been used to assist the organization of inorganic nanoparticles into functional structures at different hierarchical levels. Among others, polymers are particularly attractive for use in nanoparticle assembly, because of the complex architectures and rich functionalities of assembled structures enabled by polymers. Polymer-guided assembly of nanoparticles has emerged as a powerful route to fabricate functional materials with desired mechanical, optical, electronic or magnetic properties for a broad range of applications such as sensing, nanomedicine, catalysis, energy storage/conversion, data storage, electronics and photonics. In this review article, we summarize recent advances in the polymer-guided self-assembly of inorganic nanoparticles in both bulk thin films and solution, with an emphasis on the role of polymers in the assembly process and functions of resulting nanostructures. Precise control over the location/arrangement, interparticle interaction, and packing of inorganic nanoparticles at various scales are highlighted.