Jill E. Millstone Assistant Professor, Chemistry


CSC 1006
Pittsburgh, PA


Rational chemical synthesis of functional nanomaterials

Keywords: nanoparticle synthesis, organic-inorganic, mechanochemistry, BIONEMS

Whether they will be used in catalysis or artificial limbs, nanoparticle surfaces influence every aspect of their behavior. The ligand shell of a nanocrystal can determine its luminescence, its performance in a solar cell, or its clearance from the human body – to name just a few examples. In the Millstone group, we are interested in synthetically controlling this nanoparticle surface architecture – both the crystallographic and chemical composition – in order to develop new nanoparticle morphologies and reaction mechanisms that will have applications in fields ranging from catalysis to medicine.

MillstoneHybrid nanostructures for reaction mechanism discovery: One of the major barriers to developing rational synthesis of nanostructures is isolating and defining nanoparticle reaction intermediates. Using macromolecular self-assembly, we will develop strategies to analyze nanoparticle reaction conditions that ultimately lead to controlled crystal growth. By combining techniques from surface science, structural biology and polymer chemistry, we will build a relationship between emergent surface properties and final nanoparticle architecture.

Mechanochemistry of nanoparticles: At the nanoscale, the interplay between mechanical forces and physical properties is likely exaggerated compared to bulk materials. We are interested in understanding how mechanical forces can be used to manipulate the chemical reactivity of nanostructures. We will work to understand the response of anisotropic nanoparticles to mechanical stresses, and establish how mechanical perturbation can be used as a new type of synthetic tool in the development and application of nanomaterials.

Developing nanoparticles for BioNEMS: Anisotropic nanoparticles are ideal materials to study and mimic biomechanical architectures, because they exist on similar length scales, exhibit optoelectronic properties that can serve as diverse and sensitive readouts, and possess tailorable surface chemistries. To enable these applications, we must be able to both understand and manipulate mechanical properties of nanoparticles. Our initial work in this area will focus on developing high throughput methods to apply mechanical stress in nanoscale systems, and use these methods to access higher order multicomponent and organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures.

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