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Soft Lego built in the computer

University of Vienna


IMAGE: This image shows a simulation snapshot of a diamond crystal built of soft patchy diblock star polymers. view more

Credit: American Physical Society

In developing these novel self-assembling materials, postdoc Barbara Capone has focused on the design of organic and inorganic building blocks, which are robust and can be produced at large scale. Capone has put forward, together with her colleagues at the Universities of Vienna and Mainz, a completely new pathway for the construction of building blocks at the nanoscale.

"Soft Lego" orders in crystal structures

The team of researchers has shown that so-called block copolymer stars - that means polymers that consist of two different blocks and they are chemically anchored on a common point - have a robust and flexible architecture and they possess the ability to self-assemble at different levels. At the single-molecule level, they first order as soft patchy colloids which serve then as "soft Lego" for the emergence of larger structures. At the next level of self-assembly, the colloids form complex crystal structures, such as diamond or cubic phases.

The spatial ordering in the crystals can be steered through the architecture of the "soft Lego" and opens up the possibility for the construction of new materials at the macroscopic scale with desired structure. In this way, crystals can be built that have applications in, e.g., photonics, acting as filters for light of certain frequencies or as light guides.



Telechelic Star Polymers as Self-Assembling Units from the Molecular to the Macroscopic Scale. Barbara Capone, Ivan Coluzza, Federica LoVerso, Christos N. Likos, and Ronald Blaak. In: Physical Review Letters. Dezember 2012. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.238301.

Scientific contacts

Dr. Barbara Capone
Computational Physics
University of Vienna
1090 Wien, Sensengasse 8

Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Christos N. Likos
Computational Physics
University of Vienna
1090 Wien, Sensengasse 8
T 43-1-4277-732-30 (oder: -73231)

Press Contact

Mag. Veronika Schallhart
Press Office of the University of Vienna
Research and teaching
1010 Wien, Universitätsring 1
T 43-1-4277-175-30

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