Nanocubes could make polymer chemistry childs play
Chemists make the world’s smallest building blocks.
US researchers have made the world’s smallest building blocks. The nanocubes are just a millionth of a millimetre (a nanometre) across1. Stacked like bricks, they could make up a range of materials with useful properties such as light emission or electrical conduction.
Many chemists are currently trying to develop molecular-scale construction kits in which the individual components are single molecules to provide the polymers of the future. Conventional polymers are chainlike molecules. These entangle to form plastics ranging from soft polyethylene to hard polystyrene.
Richard Laine and colleagues at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor want to replace chains with bricks. Their molecular units are silicon and oxygen atoms linked into a cube-shaped framework with a silicon at each corner.
The researchers connect the cubes by their corners - each corner silicon has a ’spare’ bond to which other chemical groups can be attached.
Similar materials have been prepared previously using corner linkers made from chainlike hydrocarbons. Like cubic octupi with eight arms, these are of limited practical value because they decompose quite easily when heated, and form messy glass-like solids instead of well-ordered crystals with the cubes stacked precisely.
Laine’s team address this problem by replacing the loose, chain-like linker arms with stiff, stubby arms: compact aromatic molecules derived from benzene. These should make the resulting materials more stable and rigid.
For example, the nanocubes make a curable resin that can withstand heating above 500 oC in air. And by appending different molecular groups to the short benzene-like arms, the researchers have made a material that conducts electricity, which might be used in polymer-based light-emitting diodes for display devices. A third kind of cubic molecule emits green light and could be useful in sensors and displays.
PHILIP BALL | © Nature News Service
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering