PerspectivePolymer Growth

Self-assembly creates 2D materials

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Science  06 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6286, pp. 656-657
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4930

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Self-assembly (1) of suitable molecules and of polymers is a central issue in modern nanotechnology: Once in solution, suitable building blocks should assemble in a highly precise manner to yield much larger, supramolecular objects tailored for a particular function (2). Self-assembly into one-dimensional (1D) micelles with defined length and composition has been achieved (3, 4), but on page 697 of this issue, Qiu et al. (5) describe a decisive step toward 2D systems: By combining the self-assembly by epitaxial crystallization of semicrystalline block copolymers (BCPs) mixed with homopolymers in judiciously chosen solvents, they created a process that leads to highly defined rectangular platelets. Manipulation of these nearly defect-free platelets gives rise to a new class of nanoscale objects that may have a wide range of applications.