A facile solution process for the preparation of anisotropic silica nanoparticles (ASNPs) is presented. ASNPs are prepared via controlled self-assembly of spherical silica seeds (22 nm) in alcohol-water mixed media, followed by their in situ fixation and overgrowth with tetraethoxysilane (TEOS). Ethanol and l-arginine (Arg) are used to modify the dielectric constant and ionic strength of the reaction media, by which seed assembly is controlled through the adjustment of electrostatic interaction. Ethanol and Arg also serve as a cosolvent and a catalyst for hydrolysis and condensation of TEOS, respectively, which enables us to produce ASNPs in a simple one-pot process. In addition to ASNPs with wormlike structures, different kinds of NPs (bimodal spherical NPs, monodisperse spherical NPs, and spherical aggregates) have also been obtained by changing the concentrations of ethanol and Arg. The length, thickness, or both of ASNPs are controlled systematically by varying the concentrations of Arg, seed NPs, and TEOS. Other alcoholic cosolvents, such as methanol, 1-propanol, 2-propanol, and t-butanol, are also effective to give ASNPs when the dielectric constant of the alcohol-water mixed media is properly adjusted, showing the versatility of the present method.
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