Macromolecular Metallurgy of Binary Mesocrystals via Designed Multiblock Terpolymers
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Self-assembling block copolymers provide access to the fabrication of various ordered phases. In particular, the ordered spherical phases can be used to engineer soft mesocrystals with domain size at the 5-100 nm scales. Simple block copolymers, such as diblock copolymers, form a limited number of mesocrystals. However multiblock copolymers are capable to form more complex mesocrystals. We demonstrate that designed B1AB2CB3 multiblock terpolymers, in which the A- and C-blocks form spherical domains and the packing of these spheres can be controlled by changing the lengths of the middle and terminal B-blocks, self-assemble into various binary mesocrystals with space group symmetries of a large number of binary ionic crystals, including NaCl, CsCl, ZnS, α-BN, AlB2, CaF2, TiO2, ReO3, Li3Bi, Nb3Sn(A15), and α-Al2O3. This approach can be generalized to other terpolymers as well as to tetrapolymers to obtain ternary mesocrystals. Our study provides a new concept of macromolecular metallurgy for producing crystal phases in a mesoscale and thus makes multiblock copolymers a robust platform for the engineering of functional materials.
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