Recent Research Developments

Index of Recent Research News
December 21st, 2005
Tailoring nanoporous materials

    The synthesis of nanoporous materials with well-defined pore sizes and surface properties is essential for their use in applications based on selective adsorption and interfacial chemical processes, such as affinity chromatography and heterogeneous catalysis. Research efforts in Professor Marc Hillmyer’s group toward this end have culminated in a new class of nanoporous materials enabling such control. Dr. Javid Rzayev, a postdoctoral fellow working with Professor Hillmyer, has shown that chemically-etchable ABC triblock copolymer precursors can be used for the fabrication of nanoporous matrices with controlled interior surface properties (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 13373). In a polystyrene-poly(N,N-dimethylacrylamide)-polylactide (PS-PDMA-PLA) triblock copolymer, PS constitutes the matrix, PDMA provides functionality on the interior pore surfaces, while PLA is a sacrificial minority component. The flow alignment of the self-assembled triblock copolymer samples and subsequent removal of PLA cylinders provided a nanoporous, glassy PS matrix containing hexagonally packed array of channels coated with hydrophilic PDMA (see Figure).



    The nanoporous material containing hexagonally packed channels coated with hydrophilic PDMA chains. Pore size = 18 nm.

     

    The PDMA on the pore walls renders the pores water compatible, and controlled hydrolysis of these polymer “brushes” produces a desired density of highly polar carboxylic acid groups, which can in turn be easily converted to other functional units. This modular approach allows for the fabrication of a variety of novel and potentially useful nanoporous matrices from a single triblock copolymer precursor.
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