Forming Supramolecular Networks from Nanoscale Rods in Binary, Phase-Separating Mixtures

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Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1802-1804
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1802

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Simulations show that when low-volume fractions of nanoscale rods are immersed in a binary, phase-separating blend, the rods self-assemble into needle-like, percolating networks. The interconnected network arises through the dynamic interplay of phase-separation between the fluids, through preferential adsorption of the minority component onto the mobile rods, and through rod-rod repulsion. Such cooperative effects provide a means of manipulating the motion of nanoscopic objects and directing their association into supramolecular structures. Increasing the rod concentration beyond the effective percolation threshold drives the system to self-assemble into a lamellar morphology, with layers of wetted rods alternating with layers of the majority-component fluid. This approach can potentially yield organic/inorganic composites that are ordered on nanometer scales and exhibit electrical or structural integrity.

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