Colloidal synthesis offers a route to nanoparticles (NPs) with controlled composition and structural fea-tures. This Perspective describes the use of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) to obtain such nanostructures. PVP can serve as a surface stabilizer, growth modifier, nanoparticle dispersant, and reducing agent. As shown with examples, its role depends on the synthetic conditions. This dependence arises from the amphiphilic nature of PVP along with the molecular weight of the selected PVP. These characteristics can affect nano-particle growth and morphology by providing solubility in diverse solvents, selective surface stabilization, and even access to kinetically controlled growth conditions. This Perspective includes discussions of the properties of PVP-capped NPs for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), assembly, catalysis, and more. The contribution of PVP to these properties as well as its removal is considered. Ultimately, the NPs accessed through the use of PVP in colloidal syntheses are opening new applications, and the concluding guidelines provided herein should enable new nanostructures to be accessed facilely.
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