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DNA-mediated self-assembly of nanoparticles has been of great interest because it enables access to nanoparticle superstructures that cannot be synthesized otherwise. However, the programmability of higher order nanoparticle structures can be easily lost under DNA denaturing conditions. Here, we demonstrate that light can be employed as an external stimulus to master the stability of nanoparticle superlattices (SLs) via the promotion of a reversible photoligation of DNA in SLs. The oligonucleotides attached to the nanoparticles are encoded to ligate using 365 nm light, effectively locking the SLs and rendering them stable under DNA denaturing conditions. The reversible process of unlocking these structures is possible by irradiation with light at 315 nm, recovering the structures to their natural state. Our work inspires an alternative research direction toward postassembly manipulation of nanoparticle superstructures using external stimuli as a tool to enrich the library of additional material forms and their application in different media and environments.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS nano

Publication Date



School of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences , University of Southampton , Southampton , SO17 1BJ , U.K.