Using conduction spin electron spectroscopy as a sensitive and selective probe for understanding the surface chemical control over the electronic behavior of metallic nanoparticles

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Division of Chemistry supports Dr. Benjamin Lear from the Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Dr. Lear's project characterizes the interactions between metallic nanoparticles and their surrounding environment. Metallic nanoparticles are extremely small particles of metal where at least one of the structural dimensions (length, width or thickness) is in the nanometer size range (1 to 100 nm). Metallic nanoparticles have a wide range of applications including chemical manufacturing, electronics design, and cancer treatment. In these applications, the environment near the nanoparticle surface can be quite diverse. Little is known about how these changes in environment affect the desirable electronic properties of the nanoparticles. This project develops and applies a new technique to understand the effects of the surrounding environment on the electronic properties of metal nanoparticles. The results of this research will lead to the development of new advanced technologies where the nanoparticle and surrounding environment interactions are optimized. As part of this project, Dr. Lear has multiple high school students working in his lab as part of a Pennsylvania State University outreach program that provides training to students from 'at risk' schools.

This project examines the influence of surface chemistry and chemical environments on the electronic structure of small (diameters of about 2 nm) gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). A large set of surface chemistries are examined, and the properties of the nanoparticles are studied using x-ray powder diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), electrochemistry, and conduction electron spin resonance (CESR). CESR provides a sensitive and selective probe of the electronic environment experienced by electrons near the Fermi energy within the metallic core. This project establishes the mechanism for the CESR response to changes in surface chemistry. Furthermore, this project explores the sensitivity of AuNPs to changes in their local environment by exploring the effects of changes in solvent, electrochemical potential, and ligands. A detailed understanding of the synergistic relationship between the electronics and surface chemistry of metals are critical for advances in device design and development. The project funding also support the involvement of high school students from 'at risk' schools in cutting edge science aimed at understanding how surface chemistry affect electronic properties of metals.

Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $376,800.00


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