Two Birds with One Stone: Spontaneous Size Separation and Growth Inhibition of Femtosecond Laser-Generated Surfactant-Free Metallic Nanoparticles via ex Situ SU-8 Functionalization

Dongshi Zhang, Wonsuk Choi, Kenjiro Yazawa, Keiji Numata, Ayaka Tateishi, Sung Hak Cho, Hsiu Pen Lin, Yaw-Kuen Li, Yoshihiro Ito, Koji Sugioka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Laser ablation in liquids (LAL) offers a facile technique to develop a large variety of surfactant-free nanomaterials with high purity. However, due to the difficulty in the control of the particle synthesis process, the as-prepared nanomaterials always have a broad size distribution with a large polydispersity (σ). Surfactant-free properties can also cause problems with particle growth, which further increases the difficulty in size control of the colloids. Therefore, searching for strategies to simultaneously unify the sizes of colloids and inhibit particle growth has become significantly important for LAL-synthesized nanomaterials to be extensively used for biological, catalytic, and optical applications, in which fields particle size plays an important role. In this work, we present a facile way to simultaneously realize these two goals by ex situ SU-8 photoresist functionalization. Ag nanoparticles (NPs) synthesized by femtosecond laser ablation of silver in acetone at laser powers of 300 and 600 mW were used as starting materials. The synthesized Ag NPs have a broad size distribution between 1 and 200 nm with an average size of ca. 5.9 nm and σ of 127-207%. After ex situ SU-8 functionalization and 6 months storage, most particles larger than 10 nm become aggregates and precipitate, which makes the size distribution narrow with an average diameter of 4-5 nm and σ of 48-78%. The precipitation process is accompanied by the decrease in colloid mass from the initial ∼0.2 to 0.10-0.11 mg after ex situ SU-8 functionalization and 6 months colloid storage. Morphology analysis indicates that ex situ SU-8 functionalization inhibits the particle growth into polygonal nanocrystals. Radical polymerization of SU-8 on Ag NPs is considered to be the reason for both spontaneous size separation and growth inhibition phenomena. Benefiting from Ag NPs embedment and acetone dissolution, the glass-transition temperature of SU-8 photoresist increased from 314 to 331 °C according to thermogravimetric analysis. The universality of ex situ SU-8 functionalization-induced growth inhibition and size separation behaviors is further proved using the Au colloids generated by LAL in acetone. This work is expected to provide a new route for better size control of LAL-synthesized colloids via ex situ photoresist functionalization, although a half of colloidal mass is wasted due to radical polymerization-induced colloidal precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10953-10966
Number of pages14
JournalACS Omega
Issue number9
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2018

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