The ability to guide the assembly of nanosized objects reversibly with external stimuli, in particular light, is of fundamental importance, and it contributes to the development of applications as diverse as nanofabrication and controlled drug delivery. However, all the systems described to date are based on nanoparticles (NPs) that are inherently photoresponsive, which makes their preparation cumbersome and can markedly hamper their performance. Here we describe a conceptually new methodology to assemble NPs reversibly using light that does not require the particles to be functionalized with light-responsive ligands. Our strategy is based on the use of a photoswitchable medium that responds to light in such a way that it modulates the interparticle interactions. NP assembly proceeds quantitatively and without apparent fatigue, both in solution and in gels. Exposing the gels to light in a spatially controlled manner allowed us to draw images that spontaneously disappeared after a specific period of time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)