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Berkeley Lab researchers create nanoparticle thin films that self-assemble in 1 minute
Date:6/9/2014

lex structures and hierarchical patterns, similar to what nature does with proteins, it would enable mass-production of devices a thousand times smaller those used in today's microtechnology.

Xu and her research group have been steadily advancing towards this ultimate goal. Most recently their focus has been on the use of block copolymer-based supramolecular solutions to direct the self-assembly of nanoparticle arrays. A supramolecule is a group of molecules that act as a single molecule able to perform a specific set of functions. Block copolymers are long sequences or "blocks" of one type of monomer bound to blocks of another type of monomer that have an innate ability to self-assemble into well-defined arrays of nano-sized structures over macroscopic distances.

"Block copolymer-based supramolecules self-assemble and form a wide range of morphologies that feature microdomains typically a few to tens of nanometers in size," Xu says. "As their size is comparable to that of nanoparticles, the microdomains of supramolecules provide an ideal structural framework for the self-assembly of nanoparticle arrays."

In the supramolecular technique devised by Xu and her colleagues, arrays of gold nanoparticles were incorporated into solutions of supramolecules to form films that were about 200 nanometers thick. Through solvent annealing, using chloroform as the solvent, the nanoparticle arrays organized into three-dimensional cylindrical microdomains that were packed into distorted hexagonal lattices in parallel orientation with the surface. This display of hierarchical structural control in nanoparticle self-assembly was impressive but was only half the game.

"To be compatible with nanomanufacturing processes, the self-assembly fabrication process must also be completed within a few minutes to minimize any degradation of nanoparticle properties caused by exposure to the processing environment," Xu says.

She and her group systematic
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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