Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (10): 1910001.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201910001

Special Issue: Frontiers in Colloid and Interface Chemistry

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Controllable Self-Assembly of Gold Nanorods via Host–Guest Interaction between Cyclodextrins and Surfactants

Junyan Xiao1,2, Limin Qi1,*()   

  1. 1 Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, P. R. China
    2 Science and Technology Information Center, China Academy of Engineering Physics, Mianyang 621900, Sichuan Province, P. R. China
  • Received:2019-10-07 Accepted:2019-11-11 Published:2020-06-11
  • Contact: Limin Qi
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21673007);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21972004)


The self-assembly of colloidal nanocrystals has emerged as a powerful strategy for the bottom-up fabrication of functional materials and nanodevices. Recently, the self-assembly of gold nanorods (GNRs) has attracted significant attention because of their unique plasmonic properties, but the realization of their adjustable self-assembly of GNRs through facile and effective approaches remains challenging. In this work, the controllable self-assembly of GNRs in aqueous solution was realized through the host-guest interactions of cyclodextrins (CDs) and the cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) molecules adsorbed on the surface of the GNRs. The self-assembly of GNRs was readily achieved by the addition of aqueous α-CD solutions with varied concentrations into aqueous dispersions of CTAB-stabilized GNRs. At a relatively low α-CD concentration, slow aggregation of the GNRs occurred, resulting in their side-by-side assembly. This was revealed by the blue shift of the longitudinal surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) band in the absorption spectra and confirmed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations. On the other hand, when a higher concentration of α-CD was added, fast aggregation of the GNRs occurred, resulting in their end-to-end assembly. This was revealed by the red shift in the LSPR band together with the TEM observations. If β-CD was employed instead of α-CD, the self-assembly of GNRs could also be induced, although a relatively higher concentration of β-CD was required to achieve the extent of aggregation similar to that induced by α-CD, indicating that the supramolecular host–guest interaction between CDs and the surfactant CTAB was crucial to the directed self-assembly of GNRs. Furthermore, the α-CD-induced assembly was inhibited on addition of excess CTAB, confirming that the supramolecular interaction of α-CD and CTAB played a key role in directing the self-assembly of the GNRs. Based on these experimental results, a possible mechanism for the α-CD-induced self-assembly of GNRs was proposed as follows: at a lower α-CD concentration, the gradual formation of the host-guest inclusion complex α-CD/CTAB led to the partial replacement of the highly charged CTAB bilayers adsorbed on the GNRs by the less charged complex, which resulted in a slow side-by-side assembly of the GNRs; at a higher α-CD concentration, the CTAB bilayers were quickly replaced by the α-CD/CTAB complex, and the CTAB molecules adsorbed at both ends of the GNRs were almost completely replaced, resulting in a fast end-to-end assembly of the GNRs. Additionally, on the basis of the hydrolysis of α-cyclodextrin catalyzed by α-amylase, the self-assembly of GNRs directed by the host-guest interaction could be used to realize the feasible detection of α-amylase in solutions. This self-assembly strategy mediated by the host-guest interaction may be extendable to other colloidal systems involving surfactants adsorbed on the surface of nanoparticles, and may open new avenues for the controllable self-assembly of non-spherical nanoparticles.

Key words: Gold nanorod, Self-assembly of nanoparticle, Host-guest interaction, α-Cyclodextrin, α-Amylase