(Nanowerk News) In a recent comprehensive review article at Natural Review Ingredients (“Understanding ligand-protected noble metal nanoclusters at work”), researchers from the Nanoscience Center at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, discuss the unique properties of nanometer-sized metal clusters that make them suitable for a wide range of applications in catalysis, bioimaging, sensing, and targeted drug delivery.
This wide range of applications is made possible by the adaptable and atomically precise structures of nanoclusters that allow for the modification of their physical and chemical properties through the close link between computational modeling and experimental characterization.
Metal nanoclusters have hybrid inorganic-organic structures in which the inorganic metal core is composed of metal atoms such as gold or silver, or a combination of noble metals and transition metals.
The metal core is protected by a layer of organic ligand molecules such as thiols, phosphine, carbenes or alkynyls. The choice of metal in the inorganic core determines the physical properties of the cluster while the organic ligand shell determines their solubility and functionality with the surrounding environment. For example, the ligands that make clusters soluble in water can be used to enable binding to biomolecules such as single peptides or proteins.
This makes it possible to use clusters as protein or virus imaging agents via electron microscopy or via fluorescence spectroscopy, as precision delivery vehicles for drugs when drug and target recognition peptides are embedded in a ligand layer, or as photosensitizers in photodynamic therapy initiating photochemical reactions to generate oxygen species. reactive.
The small cluster size, up to a few hundred metal atoms, makes it suitable for high-accuracy computational modeling.
“Although metal groups have been under investigation for decades, it is only recently that attention has turned to their potential wide-ranging applications from catalysis to biomedicine,” said lead author of the review article, Dr. María Francisca Matus from the University of Jyväskylä .
“We are confident that these particular nanosystems will offer great, yet unexplored, application potential, particularly in biomedicine where true atomic-scale accuracy is required to design efficient, biocompatible and safe solutions in advanced nanotherapeutics.”
“We are delighted to be invited to write this comprehensive review article to one of the best journals in the field, which also acknowledges our longstanding research tradition in the science of metal nanoclusters at Jyväskylä. We hope that this contribution catalyzes stronger global research efforts in this still rather narrow but rapidly growing field of nanoparticle research”, concluded the senior author of the article, Professor Hannu Häkkinen.