Chad A. Mirkin talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Moving Fronts paper in the field of Materials
Article: Chemically tailorable colloidal particles from
infinite coordination polymers
Authors: Oh, M;Mirkin, CA
Journal: NATURE, 438 (7068): 651-654, DEC 1 2005
Addresses: Northwestern Univ, Dept Chem, 2145 Sheridan Rd,
Evanston, IL 60208 USA.
Northwestern Univ, Dept Chem, Evanston, IL 60208 USA.
Northwestern Univ, Inst Nanotechnol, Evanston, IL 60208 USA.
Why do you think your paper is highly cited?
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of
It reports on a fundamentally new class of nanoparticle-based infinite
coordination polymers (ICP). These structures can be tailored to have all
sorts of interesting and useful physical and chemical properties.
Parameters include size, shape, a bifunctional linking ligand, and metal
nodes. It describes a versatile synthetic strategy for realizing a new
class of nanostructures.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
"Some of the structures may lead to new medical
diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities and, in the
process, substantially improve healthcare."
Nanoparticles are being designed and used for all sorts of applications,
including medical diagnostic and imaging probes, intracellular gene
regulation agents, catalysts, dyes, and electronic components.
This manuscript describes a way of making a new class of nanoparticles with
properties that can be tailored through a choice of readily accessible
ligand and metal ion building blocks. The strategy involves controlled
polymerization, where the reaction is stopped before the particles become
macroscopic in size.
How did you become involved in this research and
were any particular problems encountered along the way?
We have been working in the field of nanotechnology for the past two
decades and realized that most nanoparticle compositions are based upon the
reduction of metal ions or the reaction between metal cations and elemental
anions. This limits the tailorability of the resulting nanostructures.
Ideally, synthesizing such particles from molecular building blocks should
provide even greater tailorability and dramatically expand the scope of
application. We had to devise a way of controlling the polymerization
reaction and we did so by controlling the kinetics of particle formation
and termination through the use of binary solvent systems
Where do you see your research leading in the
These structures have promise in many areas, especially in catalysis and
the life sciences. We will focus our short-term efforts in these areas.
Do you foresee any social or political
implications for your research?
Some of the structures may lead to new medical diagnostic and therapeutic
capabilities and, in the process, substantially improve healthcare.
Dr. Chad A. Mirkin
Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology
George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor of Medicine
Evanston, IL, USA Web