Engineering Polymers via Understanding the Effect of Anchoring Groups for Highly Stable Liquid Metal Nanoparticles

Xumin Huang, Tianhong Xu, Ao Shen, Thomas P. Davis, Ruirui Qiao, Shi-yang Tang

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Liquid metal nanoparticles (LMNPs) have recently attracted much attention as soft functional materials for various biorelated applications. Despite the fact that several reports demonstrate highly stable LMNPs in aqueous solutions or organic solvents, it is still challenging to stabilize LMNPs in biological media with complex ionic environments. LMNPs grafted with functional polymers (polymers/LMNPs) have been fabricated for maintaining their colloidal and chemical stability; however, to the best of our knowledge, no related work has been conducted to systematically investigate the effect of anchoring groups on the stability of LMNPs. Herein, various anchoring groups, including phosphonic acids, trithiolcarbonates, thiols, and carboxylic acids, are incorporated into brush polymers via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization to graft LMNPs. Both the colloidal and chemical stability of such polymer/LMNP systems are then investigated in various biological media. Moreover, the influence of multidentate ligands is also investigated by incorporating different numbers of carboxylic or phosphonic acid into the brush polymers. We discover that increasing the number of anchoring groups enhances the colloidal stability of LMNPs, while polymers bearing phosphonic acids provide the optimum chemical stability for LMNPs due to surface passivation. Thus, polymers bearing multidentate phosphonic acids are desirable to decorate LMNPs to meet complex environments for biological studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5959-5971
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number5
Early online date14 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Feb 2022


  • biological solutions
  • brushed polymers
  • colloidal stability
  • liquid metal
  • nanocomposites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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