Programmable nanoparticle ensembles via high-throughput directed self-assembly

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We present a simple and facile strategy for the directed self-assembly of nanoparticles into complex geometries using a minimal set of post guiding features patterned on a substrate. This understanding is based on extensive studies of nanoparticle self-assembly into linear, dense-packed, circular, and star-shaped ensembles when coated onto patterned substrates of predefined post arrays. We determined the conditions under which nanoparticles assemble and "connect" two adjacent post features, thereby forming the desired shapes. We demonstrate that with rational design of the post patterns to enforce the required pairwise interactions with posts, we can create arbitrary arrangements of nanoparticles - for example, to write "IBM" in a deterministic manner. This demonstration of programmable, high-throughput directed self-assembly of nanoparticles shows an alternative route to generate functional nanoparticle assemblies. © 2013 American Chemical Society.