Three-Dimensional Crystalline and Homogeneous Metallic Nanostructures Using Directed Assembly of Nanoparticles
Directed assembly of nano building blocks offers a versatile route to the creation of complex nanostructures with unique properties. Bottom-up directed assembly of nanoparticles have been considered as one of the best approaches to fabricate such functional and novel nanostructures. However, there is a dearth of studies on making crystalline, solid, and homogeneous nanostructures. This requires a fundamental understanding of the forces driving the assembly of nanoparticles and precise control of these forces to enable the formation of desired nanostructures. Here, we demonstrate that colloidal nanoparticles can be assembled and simultaneously fused into 3-D solid nanostructures in a single step using externally applied electric field. By understanding the influence of various assembly parameters, we showed the fabrication of 3-D metallic materials with complex geometries such as nanopillars, nanoboxes, and nanorings with feature sizes as small as 25 nm in less than a minute. The fabricated gold nanopillars have a polycrystalline nature, have an electrical resistivity that is lower than or equivalent to electroplated gold, and support strong plasmonic resonances. We also demonstrate that the fabrication process is versatile, as fast as electroplating, and scalable to the millimeter scale. These results indicate that the presented approach will facilitate fabrication of novel 3-D nanomaterials (homogeneous or hybrid) in an aqueous solution at room temperature and pressure, while addressing many of the manufacturing challenges in semiconductor nanoelectronics and nanophotonics.