A microfluidic approach for synthesis and kinetic profiling of branched gold nanostructures†
Automatized approaches for nanoparticle synthesis and characterization represent a great asset to their applicability in the biomedical field by improving reproducibility and standardization, which help to meet the selection criteria of regulatory authorities. The scaled-up production of nanoparticles with carefully defined characteristics, including intrinsic morphological features, and minimal intra-batch, batch-to-batch, and operator variability, is an urgent requirement to elevate nanotechnology towards more trustable biological and technological applications. In this work, microfluidic approaches were employed to achieve fast mixing and good reproducibility in synthesizing a variety of gold nanostructures. The microfluidic setup allowed exploiting spatial resolution to investigate the growth evolution of the complex nanoarchitectures. By physically isolating intermediate reaction fractions, we performed an advanced characterization of the shape properties during their growth, not possible with routine characterization methods. Employing an in-house developed method to assign a specific identity to shapes, we followed the particle growth/deformation process and identified key reaction parameters for more precise control of the generated morphologies. Besides, this investigation led to the optimization of a one-pot multi-size and multi-shape synthesis of a variety of gold nanoparticles. In summary, we describe an optimized platform for highly controlled synthesis and a novel approach for the mechanistic study of shape-evolving nanomaterials.