The ability to construct size- and shape-controllable architectures using nanoparticles as building blocks is essential for the exploration of nanoparticle-structured properties. This paper reports findings of an investigation of a mediator-template strategy for the size-controllable assembly of nanoparticles. This strategy explores multidentate thioether ligands as molecular mediators and tetraalkylammonium-capped gold nanoparticles (5 nm) as templates toward the preparation of size-controllable and monodispersed spherical assemblies (∼20-300-nm diameters). The combination of the mediation force of the multidentate thioether and the hydrophobic force of the tetraalkylammonium template establishes the interparticle linkage and stability. The morphological properties of the spherical assemblies have been characterized using TEM, AFM, and SAXS techniques. The finding of the soft-hard nature of the nanoparticle assemblies and their interactions with contacting substrates could form the basis of a new strategy for manipulating nanoscale linkages between nanoparticle assemblies, soldering nanoelectronics, and constructing nanosensor devices. The intriguing light scattering and optical absorption properties in response to assembly, disassembly, sizing, and interparticle spacing parameters have been characterized by dynamic light scattering and spectrophotometric measurements. The discovery of the controlled disassembly into individual nanoparticles and the size regulation by a third capping component could form the basis for applications in controlled drug delivery. The fundamental basis for the mediator-template strategy as a versatile assembly technique is further discussed in terms of experimental and theoretical correlations of the morphological and optical properties.
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