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Bicontinuous Nanoporous Plastics by a Simple Process

Myungeun Seo, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Marc Hillmyer's group, describes a method to generate reticulated nanoporous polymers using a simple process that holds tremendous promise for many applications in nanoscience and technology.

The report describing the work was  published in the journal Science1 (June 15, 2012). By incorporating a crosslinker in the controlled polymerization process for block polymer synthesis, Seo found that microphase separation occurs during polymerization and produces a crosslinked nanostructured composite with bicontinuous morphology. Reticulated nanoporous polymers with sub-10 nm pores were readily obtained by selective etching of a sacrificial segment. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of a typical nanoporous sample is shown below. Combining the advantages of block polymer self-assembly and polymerization-induced phase separation presents a simple way to make nanoporous polymers with pores percolating in 3D, precise control over pore size distribution, and mechanical integrity.

Figure. A representative scanning electron micrograph of reticulated nanoporous polymer after ~ 1 nm of Pt coating (inset: magnified image)

1Seo, M.; Hillmyer, M. A. “Reticulated Nanoporous Polymers by Controlled Polymerization-Induced Microphase Separation” Science 2012, 336, in press.