Inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) have the ability to self-organize into a variety of structures. Analysis of experimental data for different types of NPs indicates a general trend of self-assembly under a wider range of conditions and having broader structural variability than self-assembling units from organic matter.
Remarkably, the internal organization of self-assembled NP systems rivals in complexity those found in biology, which reflects the biomimetic behavior of nanoscale inorganic matter. In this talk, I will address the following questions:
(a) What are the differences and similarities of NP self-organization compared with similar phenomena involving organic and biological building blocks?
(b) What are the forces and related theoretical assumptions essential for NP interactions?
(c) What is the significance of NP self-assembly for understanding the emergence of life?
(d) What are the technological opportunities of NP self-organization?
Self-organization of chiral nanostructures will illustrate the importance of subtle anisotropic effects stemming from collective behavior of NPs and non-additivity of their interactions. The fundamental significance of studies in this area from this and other groups will be discussed in relation to the origin of homochirality on Earth and spontaneous compartmentalization (protocells).
The practicality of self-organization of nanoparticles will be discussed in relation to charge storage technologies, DNA/protein biosensing, chiral catalysis, and polarization-based optical devices.