American Chemical Society
jz3c01770_si_005.mpg (18.08 MB)

Understanding Molecular Aggregation of Ligand-Protected Atomically-Precise Metal Nanoclusters

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posted on 2023-07-18, 20:50 authored by Vikas Tiwari, Tarak Karmakar
Monolayer-protected atomically precise nanoclusters (MPCs) are an important class of molecules due to their unique structural features and diverse applications, including bioimaging, sensors, and drug carriers. Understanding the atomistic and dynamical details of their self-assembly process is crucial for designing system-specific applications. Here, we applied molecular dynamics and on-the-fly probability-based enhanced sampling simulations to study the aggregation of Au25(pMBA)18 MPCs in aqueous and methanol solutions. The MPCs interact via both hydrogen bonds and π-stacks between the aromatic ligands to form stable dimers, oligomers, and crystals. The dimerization free energy profiles reveal a pivotal role of the ligand charged state and solvent mediating the molecular aggregation. Furthermore, MPCs’ ligands exhibit suppressed conformational flexibility in the solid phase due to facile intercluster hydrogen bonds and π-stacks. Our work provides unprecedented molecular-level dynamical details of the aggregation process and conformational dynamics of MPCs ligands in solution and crystalline phases.