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
Overlooked molecular machine in cell nucleus may hold key to treating aggressive leukemia
23.04.2019 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Bacteria use their enemy -- phage -- for 'self-recognition'
23.04.2019 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters
Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.
Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
23.04.2019 | Information Technology
23.04.2019 | Earth Sciences
23.04.2019 | Life Sciences