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pH mediated kinetics of assembly and disassembly of molecular and nanoscopic building blocks


Self-assembly occurs when building blocks of the system interact with one another through interactions existing between them. Proper temporal control of these interactions can lead to formation of transient self-assembled states. pH mediated self-assembly is one of the powerful tools to stabilize and destabilize structures consisting of different sized building blocks. Here we investigate the kinetics of pH triggered reversible transformation of two building blocks using a relaxation method, reversible vesicle–micelle transformation of oleic acid molecules and dispersion–aggregation of pH sensitive gold nanoparticles. We found significant differences in the characteristic times (two orders of magnitudes) between the disassembly processes—from an ordered structure to a less ordered structure (in the case of oleic acid molecules) or to single building blocks (in the case of nanoparticles)—and the self-assembly processes (bilayer formation or aggregation of nanoparticles). It can be explained by a sophisticated interplay between repulsive (electrostatic) and attractive (van der Waals) interactions.

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This study was supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (K116506, NN125752 and TÉT_12_JP-1-2014-0005). H. N. acknowledges funding support from JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP15H05410 and JP16K13627, the Ogasawara Foundation, and the Kansai Research Foundation for Technology Promotion. H. N. and I. L. acknowledge support from the Project for Enhancing Research and Education in Polymer and Fiber Science at KIT.

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Correspondence to István Lagzi.

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Tóth-Szeles, E., Medveczky, Z., Holló, G. et al. pH mediated kinetics of assembly and disassembly of molecular and nanoscopic building blocks. Reac Kinet Mech Cat 123, 323–333 (2018).

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  • Self-assembly
  • Disassembly
  • Nanoparticles
  • Fatty acid
  • Protonation