CNMS User Research
Novel Self-Assembled Nanostructures from Well-defined Amphiphilic
Hong, J. W. Mays, and P. F. Britt, CNMS Macromolecular Complex System
Self-assembly is the autonomous organization of components into patterns
or structures. Self-assembling processes are common throughout nature
and technology. They involve components from the molecular (~10-9m)
to the planetary (~106m) scale and many different kinds of interactions.
Self-assembly is of interest to many within the greater scientific
community because it is a ubiquitous phenomenon in living organisms
which provides numerous examples of functional ensembles which stimulate
the design of nanostructures with desired functions and properties.
One of the greatest challenges to researchers in the materials sciences
is the design and synthesis of materials with exact structures and
specific functions as a result of self-assembling. The self-assembling
of synthetic block copolymers provides a very promising route to achieve
The structures from self-assembled amphiphilic block copolymers in
solution are influenced by many parameters including composition and
molecular weight of the block copolymers. Perhaps the most important
parameters are the inherent characteristics of the polymer itself.
We recently discovered that a highly ordered pyramid nanostructure
formed in polystyrene-block-sulfonated poly(1,3-cyclohexadiene) (PS-b-sPCHD)
block copolymer in acidic solutions. It is the first time that such
highly ordered nano-pyramids formed in polymer solutions. We believe
that hydrogen-bonding and the intrinsic structure characteristics of
the PCHD block (rigidity) play the central role in the self-assembling
process. The size of the unique nanostructures can be tuned by changing
the composition and/or molecular weight of this particular polymer
system. These nanostructures will find potential applications in many
areas such as photonics, optoelectronics, and thermal electronics.
This work was carried out within Partner User Proposal CNMS2003-041,
including contributions from researchers sponsored by the BES Division
of Scientific User facilities. Partner users (PI J. M. Simonson) were
supported by the BES Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and
Biosciences under FWP ERKCC49.