Micrometre- and nanometre-sized particles play important roles in many applications, including catalysis1, optics2,3, biosensing4-8 and data storage9. Organic particles 10 are usually prepared through polymerization of suitable monomers11 or precipitation methods12. In the case of inorganic materials, particle fabrication tends to involve the reduction of a metal salt13, or the controlled mixing of salt solutions supplying a metal cation and an elemental anion (for example, S2-, Se 2-, O2-)14, respectively; in some instances, these methods even afford direct control over the shape of the particles produced14-17. Another class of materials are metal-organic coordination polymers18-23, which are based on metal ions coordinated by polydentate organic ligands and explored for potential use in catalysis 18, gas storage19,20, nonlinear optics21 and molecular recognition and separations22,23. In a subset of these materials, the use of organometallic complexes as ligands (so-called metalloligands) provides an additional level of tailorability, but these materials have so far not yet been fashioned into nano- or microparticles. Here we show that simple addition of an initiation solvent to a precursor solution of metal ions and metalloligands results in the spontaneous and fully reversible formation of a new class of metal-metalloligand particles. We observe initial formation of particles with diameters of a few hundred nanometres, which then coalesce and anneal into uniform and smooth microparticles. The ease with which these particles can be fabricated, and the ability to tailor their chemical and physical properties through the choice of metal and organic ligand used, should facilitate investigations of their scope for practical applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements C.A.M. acknowledges the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, NIH, NSF and DARPA for supporting this research. We thank C. L. Stern for X-ray crystallographic analysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes