Synthesis and applications of anisotropic nanoparticles with precisely defined dimensions

Amanda K. Pearce, Thomas Wilks, Maria Chiara Arno, Rachel O'Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
913 Downloads (Pure)


Shape and size play powerful roles in determining the properties of a material; controlling these aspects with precision is therefore an important, fundamental goal of the chemical sciences. In particular, the introduction of shape anisotropy at the nanoscale has emerged as a potent way to access new properties and functionality, enabling the exploration of complex nanomaterials across a range of applications. Recent advances in DNA and protein nanotechnology, inorganic crystallization techniques, and precision polymer self-assembly are now enabling unprecedented control over the synthesis of anisotropic nanoparticles with a variety of shapes, encompassing one-dimensional rods, dumbbells and wires, two-dimensional and three-dimensional platelets, rings, polyhedra, stars, and more. This has, in turn, enabled much progress to be made in our understanding of how anisotropy and particle dimensions can be tuned to produce materials with unique and optimized properties. In this Review, we bring these recent developments together to critically appraise the different methods for the bottom-up synthesis of anisotropic nanoparticles enabling exquisite control over morphology and dimensions. We highlight the unique properties of these materials in arenas as diverse as electron transport and biological processing, illustrating how they can be leveraged to produce devices and materials with otherwise inaccessible functionality. By making size and shape our focus, we aim to identify potential synergies between different disciplines and produce a road map for future research in this crucial area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21–45
Number of pages25
JournalNature Reviews Chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: supported by EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 (grant 615142).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Limited.


  • shape anisotropy
  • nanoparticles
  • morphology
  • electron transport
  • biological processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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