Biomimetic Hierarchical Assembly of Helical Supraparticles from Chiral Nanoparticles
2016-02-22T00:00:00Z (GMT) by
Chiroptical materials found in butterflies, beetles, stomatopod crustaceans, and other creatures are attributed to biocomposites with helical motifs and multiscale hierarchical organization. These structurally sophisticated materials self-assemble from primitive nanoscale building blocks, a process that is simpler and more energy efficient than many top-down methods currently used to produce similarly sized three-dimensional materials. Here, we report that molecular-scale chirality of a CdTe nanoparticle surface can be translated to nanoscale helical assemblies, leading to chiroptical activity in the visible electromagnetic range. Chiral CdTe nanoparticles coated with cysteine self-organize around Te cores to produce helical supraparticles. d-/l-Form of the amino acid determines the dominant left/right helicity of the supraparticles. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations with a helical pair-potential confirm the assembly mechanism and the origin of its enantioselectivity, providing a framework for engineering three-dimensional chiral materials by self-assembly. The helical supraparticles further self-organize into lamellar crystals with liquid crystalline order, demonstrating the possibility of hierarchical organization and with multiple structural motifs and length scales determined by molecular-scale asymmetry of nanoparticle interactions.