Heterogeneous nanoblocks give polymers an edge

August 5, 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: Versatile polymer film synthesis method invented

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

Related Stories

Versatile polymer film synthesis method invented

August 2, 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 established ...

Accidental discovery may lead to improved polymers

April 5, 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

December 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 a silicon surface, ...

Soft Lego built in the computer

January 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 works at the group ...

Recommended for you

Chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam

June 21, 2017

Nanotechnologists from Rice University and China's Tianjin University have used 3-D laser printing to fabricate centimeter-sized objects of atomically thin graphene.

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

June 21, 2017

Versatile, light-weight materials that are both strong and resilient are crucial for the development of flexible electronics, such as bendable tablets and wearable sensors. Aerogels are good candidates for such applications, ...

Neuron transistor behaves like a brain neuron

June 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have built a new type of "neuron transistor"—a transistor that behaves like a neuron in a living brain. These devices could form the building blocks of neuromorphic hardware that may offer unprecedented ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.