Self-Assembly of a Linear Alkylamine Bilayer around a Cu Nanocrystal: Molecular Dynamics

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Copper nanocrystals are often grown with the help of alkylamine capping agents, which direct the nanocrystal shape. However, the role of these molecules is still unclear. We characterized the assembly of aqueous tetradecylamine (TDA) around a Cu nanocrystal and found that TDA exhibits a temperature-dependent bilayer structure. The bilayer involves an inner layer, in which TDA binds to Cu via the amine group and tends to orient the alkyl tail perpendicular to the surface, and an outer layer whose structure depends on temperature. At low temperatures, alkylamines in the inner layer form bundles with no apparent relation to the crystal facets. Alkylamines in the outer layer tend to orient their long axes perpendicular to the Cu surfaces, with interdigitation into the inner layer. At high temperatures, alkylamines in the inner layer lose their bundle structure, and outer-layer alkylamines tend to orient themselves tangential to the Cu surfaces, forming a "web"above inner-layer TDA. TDA exhibits a rapid interlayer exchange at typical synthesis temperatures, consistent with experiment. The variety in the assemblies seen here and in other studies of alkanethiols around gold nanocrystals indicates a richness in the assemblies that can be achieved by modulating the interaction between the strongly binding end group and the surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4178-4186
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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