We present a novel method for size-selectively separating mixtures of nanoparticles in aqueous media utilizing the inherent chemical recognition properties of DNA and the cooperative binding properties of DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles. We have determined that the melting temperatures (T ms) of aggregates formed from nanoparticles interconnected by duplex DNA are dependent upon particle size. This effect is proposed to derive from larger contact areas between the larger particles and therefore increased cooperativity, leading to higher Tms. The separation protocol involves taking two aliquots of a mixture of particles that vary in size and functionalizing them with complementary DNA. These aliquots are mixed at a temperature above the Tm for aggregates formed from the smaller particles but below the Tm for aggregates formed from the larger particles. Therefore, the aggregates that form consist almost exclusively of the larger particles and can be easily separated by sedimentation and centrifugation from the smaller dispersed particles. This unusual size-dependent behavior and separation protocol are demonstrated for three binary mixtures of particles and one ternary mixture.
ASJC Scopus subject areas