Au nanocrystals coated with thiol derivatives differing by the length of their alkyl chains are used to build 3D superlattices called supracrystals. In this study, we used two sets of Au nanocrystals diff ering by their sizes and size distributions. The average sizes are 5 nm (Au5) and 7 nm (Au7). From one experiment to the other, the size distribution slightly changes. For Au5 nanocrystals, it evolves from 6 to 8% and for Au7 nanocrystals, it varies from 5 to 6%. The Au nanocrystals (Au5 and Au7) are fi rst dispersed in toluene and produce fcc supracrystals by solvent evaporation. Here, by small-angle grazing X-ray diff raction, we observe a control in the average interparticle distance within the supracrystals. When the supracrystals are grown at zero toluene vapor pressure, the interparticle distances increase linearly with the alkyl chain length of the nanocrystals’ coating agent regardless of their diameters. Furthermore, the dry supracrystals can swell and the interparticle distance within the superstructure be increased by subjecting the material to toluene vapor pressure after initial growth. This swelling process is reversible, and retraction occurs when the toluene vapor pressure drops. This indicates a strong ability of the dried supracrystals to trap toluene molecules. On increasing the toluene vapor pressure during the solvent evaporation process, the slope of the linear dependency of the interparticle distances to the alkyl chain length is markedlydecreased and the interparticle distance reaches a quasi-plateau. This is explained by the infl uence of depletion forces created by the presence of thiol-containing molecules physisorbed on the coating molecules on the internal structure of these supracrystals. Recently, we demonstrated that, by using the same nanocrystals (Au5 and Au7), a hierarchy in the supracrystal growth process takes place from heterogeneous nucleation with the formation of a layer-by-layer fi lm to homogeneous nucleation in solution with the formation of shaped supracrystals. Here it is shown that the interparticle distance is independent of the supracrystal growth mechanisms.
Source : Hierarchy in Au Nanocrystal Ordering in Supracrystal: II. The Control of Inter Nanocrystal Distances. Y.F.Wan, N.Goubet, P.A. Albouy and M.P.Pileni Langmuir,2013, 29, 13576-13581.