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Polymer synthesis could aid future electronics
Date:7/19/2010

ped to guide and initiate the polymerization reaction. Team member Meunier of ORNL compared the process to placing eggs in an egg carton, where the free energy minima, or "indentations," in the copper surface allow the molecules to neatly stack next to each other to form a compact and organized polymer structure.

"The chemistry and resulting stereochemical structure on the surface are very unusual," said Sumpter. "Most attempts to synthesize polymers usually result in imperfect polymer arrays with a very different prominent structure."

Sumpter and Meunier from ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences with appointments in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division collaborated in the project by analyzing the results through a "virtual microscope." Based on density functional theory calculations and simulations performed on ORNL supercomputers, the "virtual microscopy" revealed the highly organized structure of the polymer arrays. By examining the polymer formation with the conventional means of scanning tunneling microscopy combined with the virtual microscopy, the team was able to clearly illustrate the construction and bonding of PEDOT arrays.

"This experiment defines what nanoscience is about--a mixture of experimental techniques combined with theoretical knowledge," Meunier said. "It was an excellent opportunity to interface directly with experimentalists and establish new international collaborations."

Although the team focused its research on the PEDOT polymer, the researchers believe the same approach could potentially be used to construct other well-defined polymers.


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Contact: Morgan McCorkle
mccorkleml@ornl.gov
865-574-4160
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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