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Nanofabrication within unimolecular nanoreactors


Nanoparticles (NPs) have been a research focus during the last three decades owing to their unique properties and extensive applications. It is crucial to precisely control the features of NPs including topology, architecture, composition, size, surface and assembly, due to these features will affect their properties and then applications. Ingenious nanofabrication strategies have been developed to precisely control these features of NPs, especially for templated nanofabrication within predesigned nanoreactors. Compared with conventional nanoreactors (hard templates and supramolecular nanoreactors), unimolecular nanoreactors exhibit (1) covalently stable nanostructures uninfluenced by environmental variations, (2) extensively regulated features of structure including topology, composition, size, surface and valence due to the rapid development of polymer chemistry, and (3) effective encapsulation of abundant guests with or without strong interaction to achieve the function of load, delivery and conversion of guests. Thus, unimolecular nanoreactors have shown fascinating prospects as templates for nanofabrication. Various NPs with expected topologies (sphere, rod, tube, branch, ring), architectures (compact, hollow, core-shell, necklace-like), compositions (metal, metal oxide, semiconductor, doping, alloy, silica, composite), sizes (generally 1-100 nm), surface properties (hydrophilic, hydrophobic, reactivity, valence and responsibility) and assemblies (oligomer, chain, aggregate) can be fabricated easily within reasonably designed unimolecular nanoreactors in a programmable way. In this review, we provide a brief introduction of the properties and types of unimolecular nanoreactors, a condensed summary of representative methodologies of nanofabrication within various unimolecular nanoreactors and a predicted outlook of the potentially further developments of this charming nanofabrication approach.

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Article information

04 Apr 2020
16 May 2020
First published
18 May 2020

Nanoscale, 2020, Accepted Manuscript
Article type
Review Article

Nanofabrication within unimolecular nanoreactors

Y. Wang and X. Zhu, Nanoscale, 2020, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/D0NR02674C

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