PerspectiveMaterials Science

The ABCs of Self-Assembly

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1307
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1307

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Summary

Block copolymers consisting of two or three different polymer chains linked by covalent bonds form intricate domain structures that can be exploited in applications ranging from gas separation to optical communication. Recently, previously predicted "gyroid" structures, which consist of three or five separate three-dimensionally continuous regions, have been synthesized. Their characterization is challenging and was aided by mathematicians' studies of minimal and nonzero constant mean curvature surfaces.

The author is the Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. E-mail elt@mit.edu