Ligand-Mediated Interactions between Nanoscale Surfaces Depend Sensitively and Nonlinearly on Temperature, Facet Dimensions, and Ligand Coverage

A Widmer-Cooper and PL Geissler, ACS NANO, 10, 1877-1887 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05569

Nanoparticles are often covered in ligand monolayers, which can undergo a temperature-dependent order disorder transition that switches the particle particle interaction from repulsive to attractive in solution. In this work, we examine how changes in the ligand surface coverage and facet dimensions affect the ordering of ligands, the arrangement of nearby solvent molecules, and the interaction between ligand monolayers on different particles. In particular, we consider the case of strongly bound octadecyl ligands on the (100) facet of CdS in the presence of an explicit n-hexane solvent. Depending on the facet dimensions and surface coverage, we observe three distinct ordered states that differ in how the ligands are packed together, and which affect the thickness of the ligand shell and the structure of the ligand solvent interface. The temperature dependence of the order disorder transition also broadens and shifts to lower temperature in a nonlinear manner as the nanoscale is approached from above. We find that ligands on nanoscale facets can behave very similarly to those on macroscopic surfaces in solution, and that some facet dimensions affect the ligand alignment more strongly than others. As the ligands order, the interaction between opposing monolayers becomes attractive, even well below full surface coverage. The strength of attraction per unit surface area is strongly affected by ligand coverage, but only weakly by facet width. Conversely, we find that bringing two monolayers together just above the order disorder transition temperature can induce ordering and attraction.

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