Although dissipative self-assembly is ubiquitous in nature, where it gives rise to structures and functions critical to life, examples of artificial systems featuring this mode of self-assembly are rare. Here, we identify the presence of ephemeral assemblies during seeded growth of gold nanoparticles. In this process, hydrazine reduces Au(III) ions, which attach to the existing nanoparticles "seeds". The attachment is accompanied by a local increase in the concentration of a surfactant, which therefore forms a bilayer on nanoparticle surfaces, inducing their assembly. The resulting aggregates gradually disassemble as the surfactant concentration throughout the solution equilibrates. The lifetimes of the out-of-equilibrium aggregates depend on and can be controlled by the size of the constituent nanoparticles. We demonstrate the utility of our out-of-equilibrium aggregates to form transient reflective coatings on polar surfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry