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"Green" Chemistry Method to Synthesize Shaped Nanoparticles for Enhanced Catalysis and Imaging Applications



MSK investigators have developed a novel “green” chemistry method to synthesize uniform preparations of differently-shaped metallic (e.g. gold) nanoparticle cores such as triangles, squares, stars or high index facet shapes (particularly for use in catalysis applications). The process is accomplished by using different ratios of the same core chemicals, without the need for Cetrimonium bromide (CTAB).

This breakthrough impacts and enhances many applications, providing the potential for expanded catalysis capabilities, research technologies (e.g. cell tracking), and sample imaging (e.g. simultaneous identification of multiple targets with electron microscopy, EM).


Nanoparticle systems already have demonstrated significant value in a wide range of applications, including catalysis, photonics, and biomedical imaging. Furthermore, the ability to produce nanoparticles with differently-shaped (anisotropic) cores opens up additional opportunities within each of these applications – for example, the ability to catalyze only selective reactions or detect different nanoparticle subpopulations within a single sample.

Yet there are drawbacks to the current approach for inducing these shapes, which relies on the use of surfactants or polymers that produce nanoparticles with surfaces that are largely passivated by the auxiliary reagents. This inhibits surface-dependent applications like catalysis and sensing. Meanwhile, the surfactant most commonly used – CTAB – is also highly cytotoxic. MSK’s breakthrough technology overcomes these obstacles.


  • Avoids use of toxic precursors through novel green chemistry synthesis method

  • Particles can catalyze selective oxidation reactions and/or reduce production of nitrogen oxides or other toxic or environmentally harmful compounds

  • Enables EM multiplexing capabilities to identify separate targets within same sample


Anisotropic metallic nanoparticles already have helped revolutionize areas such as biomedical imaging, and they offer broad value for further industrial use and research, particularly in the field of catalysis. Meanwhile, electron microscopy alone remains a multi-billion dollar global industry, with a sustained presence in research labs due to significantly higher resolution and magnification that permit observations at the molecular level. This technology’s ability to synthesize such particles consistently while eliminating toxic precursors opens the door for broad commercial use across multiple applications.


  • Wall et al. (2017) Surfactant-Free Shape Control of Gold Nanoparticles Enabled by Unified Theoretical Framework of Nanocrystal Synthesis. Advanced Materials (PubMed link)


Catalysis, Research, Imaging / Ready to Use


PCT application PCT/US2016/040250 filed on June 30, 2016


Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD, Laboratory Head, Memorial Hospital Research Laboratories; Ass’t Attending, Memorial Hospital, MSK


Jesse Baumgartner, CFA, Licensing Manager
Tel: 646-888-1081

MSK Internal Code: SK2013-027

Stage of Development

Ready to use