Matthew Jones


SURF Mentoring

Potential projects/topics: Nanoparticle synthesis remains a fundamentally poorly understood process, with most reactions being discovered by tedious trial-and-error experimentation. The objective of this project is to leverage a class of metal nanocluster molecules, which are atomically-well-defined, as precursors in common syntheses as a means to understand the chemical mechanisms governing nanoparticle growth. This will involve the rational synthesis of gold clusters with a precise core (e.g., Au32) and ligand structure (e.g., 12 quaternary ammonium halides), that will be used to “seed” the growth of larger gold nanoparticles of a variety of shapes. Design of the cluster and it’s ligands will allow for specific hypotheses to be tested regarding the kinetics and thermodynamics of how nanoparticles form. Techniques involved will include transmission electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, NMR, and absorption/fluorescence spectroscopy.

Potential skills gained: Wet chemistry lab, mass spectrometry, optical spectroscopy, science communication

Required qualifications: None

Direct mentor: Graduate Student

Student Project Titles List

Mapping Selective Binding of Surface Ligands on Anisotropic Gold Prisms​

Research Areas

The Jones Lab at Rice University takes a systems approach to nanoparticle assembly - in addition to understanding assembled materials as a function of their constituent parts (e.g. nanoparticles, ligands, atoms), we also consider the influence of collective properties and higher-order effects (e.g. dimensionality, curvature, particle interactions). These systems-level phenomena allow for the creation of new forms of inorganic matter that are structurally reconfigurable, experience positive and negative feedback, and are constantly evolving over time in response to external stimuli. This holistic and hierarchical approach requires the application of advanced chemical methods for controlling nanoparticle size, shape, composition, surface functionality, interaction potential, and geometric environment while simultaneously addressing fundamental questions about the symmetry, topology, and out-of-equilibrium dynamics of assembled nanometer-scale systems. Through these insights we design adaptive materials with unique optical and mechanical properties with potential impact in the fields of metamaterials, energy storage, and biology.