Molecular-mechanical switching at the nanoparticle-solvent interface: practice and theory. Academic Article uri icon


  • A range (Au, Pt, Pd) of metal nanoparticles (MNPs) has been prepared and functionalized with (a) redox-active stalks containing tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) units, (b) [2]pseudorotaxanes formed between these stalks and cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) (CBPQT(4+)) rings, and (c) bistable [2]rotaxane molecules where the dumbbell component contains a 1,5-dioxynaphthalene (DNP) unit, as well as a TTF unit, encircled by a CBPQT(4+) ring. It transpires that the molecules present in (a) and (c) and the supermolecules described in (b) retain their switching characteristics, previously observed in solution, when they are immobilized onto MNPs. Moreover, their oxidation potentials depend on the fraction, chi, of the molecules or supermolecules on the surface of the nanoparticles. A variation in chi affects the oxidation potentials of the TTF units to the extent that switching can be subjected to fine tuning as a result. Specifically, increasing chi results in positive shifts (i) in the oxidation potentials of the TTF unit in (a)-(c) and (ii) the reduction potentials of the CBPQT(4+) rings in (c). These shifts can be attributed to an increase in the electrostatic potential surrounding the MNPs. Both the magnitude and the direction of these shifts are reproduced by a model, based on the Poisson-Boltzmann equation coupled with charge-regulating boundary conditions. Furthermore, the kinetics of relaxation from the metastable state coconformation (MSCC) to the ground-state coconformation (GSCC) of the bistable [2]rotaxane molecules also depends on chi, as well as on the nanoparticle diameter. Increasing either of these parameters accelerates the rate of relaxation from the MSCC to the GSCC. This rate is a function of (i) the activation energy for the relaxation process associated with the bistable [2]rotaxane molecules in solution and (ii) the electrostatic potential surrounding the MNPs. The electrostatic potential depends on (i) the diameter of the MNPs, (ii) the amount of the bistable [2]rotaxane molecules on the surface of the MNPs, and (iii) the equilibrium distribution of the CBPQT(4+) rings between the DNP and TTF recognition sites in the GSCC. This electrostatic potential has also been quantified using the Poisson-Boltzmann equation, leading to faithful estimates of the rate constants.

published proceedings

  • J Am Chem Soc

author list (cited authors)

  • Coskun, A., Wesson, P. J., Klajn, R., Trabolsi, A., Fang, L., Olson, M. A., ... Stoddart, J. F.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Coskun, Ali||Wesson, Paul J||Klajn, Rafal||Trabolsi, Ali||Fang, Lei||Olson, Mark A||Dey, Sanjeev K||Grzybowski, Bartosz A||Stoddart, J Fraser

publication date

  • March 2010