Shape-controlled synthesis of metal nanocrystals: simple chemistry meets complex physics?
Nanocrystals are fundamental to modern science and technology. Mastery over the shape of a nanocrystal enables control of its properties and enhancement of its usefulness for a given application. Our aim is to present a comprehensive review of current research activities that center on the shape-controlled synthesis of metal nanocrystals. We begin with a brief introduction to nucleation and growth within the context of metal nanocrystal synthesis, followed by a discussion of the possible shapes that a metal nanocrystal might take under different conditions. We then focus on a variety of experimental parameters that have been explored to manipulate the nucleation and growth of metal nanocrystals in solution-phase syntheses in an effort to generate specific shapes. We then elaborate on these approaches by selecting examples in which there is already reasonable understanding for the observed shape control or at least the protocols have proven to be reproducible and controllable. Finally, we highlight a number of applications that have been enabled and/or enhanced by the shape-controlled synthesis of metal nanocrystals. We conclude this article with personal perspectives on the directions toward which future research in this field might take.