Chemists build curved structures with nanoscale building blocks
January 16, 2004 | Source: KurzweilAI
Northwestern University chemists report they have discovered ways to construct nanoscale building blocks that assemble into flat or curved structures with a high level of predictability.
Using hybrid nanorods consisting of segments of gold and conducting polymers as their building blocks, the researchers created a number of unusual structures, including bundles, sheets and tubes of varying diameters. The extraordinary control that they were able to demonstrate over the process holds promise for building new and powerful drug delivery systems, electronic circuits, catalysts and light-harvesting materials.
“We are trying to mimic life itself,” said Chad A. Mirkin, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Nanotechnology, who led the research team. “Much like proteins which must fold into complex structures in order to function properly, we have designed new materials that also form complex structures through the process of self-assembly.
“The research clearly shows that some unnatural building blocks, such as the gold-polymer rods, need assistance in order to form higher-ordered structures,” said Mirkin. “This means that when we work with building blocks that are larger than molecules but smaller than macroscopic objects, we should consider building materials in a completely new way — by using templates to help guide the assembly process and reduce the large number of assembly pathways potentially available to the building blocks.”