Novel Material with Controllable Sub-nanometer Morphology

Technology #10391

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Nanoparticles having sub-nanometer features
Professor Francesco Stellacci
EPFL Materials Science
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Alicia Jackson
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

Nanoparticles having sub-nanometer features

US Patent 7,597,950

Materials with unique surface properties due to tunable, sub-nanometer features.


Applications include oil-water separation, chemical catalysis, and antimicrobial activity.

Problem Addressed

It is currently very difficult to conveniently synthesize nanomaterials that present sub-nanometer features on their outside ligand shell to produce unique surface properties.


This invention discloses a new family of mixed ligand nanoparticles that show sub-nanometer patterns (e.g. ridges) on their ligand shell. Some of these particles have ridges composed of hydrophilic valleys and hydrophobic peaks. For the first time, there exists the ability to control the supramolecular ordering of the organic ligands on the nanoparticle surfaces, and also to control the surface properties of nanoparticles by varying the mixture of ligands introduced during nanoparticle synthesis. These particles show unique and unexpected solubility, self-assembly and surface chemistry properties.


  • Unique easily controllable properties such as solubility, surface chemistry and reactivity
  • First known materials that exhibit sub-nanometer features
  • Simple synthetic method that can be readily implemented on a large industrial scale