Heterogeneous nanoblocks give polymers an edge

Aug 05, 2013
Heterogeneous nanoblocks give polymers an edge

Building structures by mixing lego bricks of two different sizes is child's play. However, studying polymers endowed with an alternating nanostructure made of heterogeneous blocks is anything but straightforward.

Theoretical physicist Mark Matsen, based at the University of Reading, UK, studies polymer mixes consisting of two-fold (AB) and three-fold (BAB) combinations of two types of nanoscale blocks. He has shown, in a study published in EPJ E, that the underlying of the blocks can cause polymers to switch to different nanoscale patterns and therefore display different properties. Numerous applications based on etching patterns on substrates, such as electronics, , and membranes endowed with a specific function, can benefit from such research.

The problem is that, for a long time, polymer experts thought that achieving such an ordered required using nanoblocks of similar sizes. However, experimentalists have recently shown that is not necessarily the case. As it turns out, it is generally sufficient to synthesise using less costly methods, which result in block components of heterogeneous sizes.

To understand the effect of heterogeneous blocks on such polymer melts, the author compares polymer architectures made of three blocks, namely BAB, and two blocks, namely AB. In this case, A blocks are of heterogeneous size and B blocks are of homogeneous size. He relies on a method called self-consistent (SCFT), which involves approximating the effect of all the other polymers on any given polymer by an averaged effect.

Matsen found that the use of heterogeneous affects the morphological structure of polymers at the nanometric scale. He also realised that by using heterogeneous components, particularly with triblocks, it is possible to shift the width of sub-domains made of one type of polymer. This could, for example, help in improving the effectiveness of triblock-based refractive surfaces.

Explore further: Researcher customizes nanoscale systems for large-scale impact in light and energy

More information: European Physical Journal E, DOI: 10.1140/epje/i2013-13044-9

Related Stories

Versatile polymer film synthesis method invented

Aug 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —Forming perfect porous polymer films is not enough; they need both large and small pores, and the process of making them needs to be simple, versatile and repeatable. Creatively combining already ...

Accidental discovery may lead to improved polymers

Apr 05, 2013

Chemical Engineering Professor Tim Bender and Post-Doctoral Fellow Benoit Lessard's discovery of an unexpected side product of polymer synthesis could have implications for the manufacture of commercial polymers used in sealants, ...

How to build doughnuts with Lego blocks

Dec 21, 2011

Scientists have uncovered how nature minimises energy costs in rings of liquids with an internal nanostructure made of two chemically discordant polymers joined with strong bonds, or di-blocks, deposited on ...

Soft Lego built in the computer

Jan 17, 2013

Barbara Capone of the Computational Physics Group of the University of Vienna has developed a new method for the construction of building blocks at the nanoscale. The researcher in Soft Matter Physics, who ...

Recommended for you

Cut flowers last longer with silver nanotechnology

21 hours ago

Once cut and dunked in a vase of water, flowers are susceptible to bacterial growth that shortens the length of time one has to enjoy the blooms. A few silver nanoparticles sprinkled into the water, might be the answer to ...

Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels

Aug 20, 2014

A simple and effective way of unravelling the often tangled mass of DNA is to 'thread' the strand into a nano-channel. A study carried out with the participation of the International School for Advanced Studies ...

User comments : 0