Functional composites by programming entropy-driven nanosheet growth

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Journal Article

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Nanomaterials must be systematically designed to be technologically viable. Driven by optimizing intermolecular interactions, current designs are too rigid to plug in new chemical functionalities and cannot mitigate condition differences during integration. Despite extensive optimization of building blocks and treatments, accessing nanostructures with the required feature sizes and chemistries is difficult. Programming their growth across the nano-to-macro hierarchy also remains challenging, if not impossible. To address these limitations, we should shift to entropy-driven assemblies to gain design flexibility, as seen in high-entropy alloys, and program nanomaterial growth to kinetically match target feature sizes to the mobility of the system during processing. Here, following a micro-then-nano growth sequence in ternary composite blends composed of block-copolymer-based supramolecules, small molecules and nanoparticles, we successfully fabricate high-performance barrier materials composed of more than 200 stacked nanosheets (125 nm sheet thickness) with a defect density less than 0.056 μm −2 and about 98% efficiency in controlling the defect type. Contrary to common perception, polymer-chain entanglements are advantageous to realize long-range order, accelerate the fabrication process (<30 min) and satisfy specific requirements to advance multilayered
film technology. This study showcases the feasibility, necessity and unlimited opportunities to transform laboratory nanoscience into nanotechnology through systems engineering of self-assembly.





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