March 30, 2022
News Release

Nano-sized Gold Stars Open a Window into Predictive Materials Synthesis

Predictive bioinspired research is a milestone toward tunable nanoscale devices


Nanosized gold stars

Nano-sized gold stars open a window into predictive materials synthesis.

(Composite image by Timothy Holland | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

A collaborative team from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington has successfully designed a bioinspired molecule that can direct gold atoms to form perfect five-pointed nanoscale stars. The work is an important step toward understanding and controlling metal nanoparticle shape and creating advanced materials with tunable properties.

Metallic nanomaterials have interesting optical properties, called plasmonic properties, said PNNL’s Chun-Long Chen, who is a PNNL senior research scientist, UW affiliate professor of chemical engineering and of chemistry, and a UW–PNNL Faculty Fellow. The study was published March 21, 2022, in the journal Angewandte Chemie. It is the product of growing collaborations between UW and PNNL in the materials synthesis space, including the joint initiatives Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry, and Technology (NW IMPACT) and Materials Synthesis and Simulations Across Scales (MS3); and research funded by DOE through the Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales (CSSAS). These collaborations strongly benefit from the institutions’ dual appointment program.



About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: March 30, 2022