This film of block copolymers shows the material's characteristic tendency to separate into distinct regions.
Molecular Stencils Bring New Possibilities for Solar Energy
Scientists in the Electronic & Magnetic Materials & Devices Group, together with other Argonne scientists, have begun to use molecular "stencils" to pave the way to new materials that could potentially find their way into future generations of solar cells, catalysts, and photonic crystals. Their technique is dubbed sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS), which relies on the creation of self-assembled nanoscale chemical domains into which other materials can be grown.
In SIS, a film composed of block copolymers acts as a template that can be used to create a highly tunable patterned material. It is an extension of atomic layer deposition (ALD), a popular technique for materials synthesis that is often used by some Argonne scientists. Rather than simply layering two-dimensional films of different nanomaterials on top of one another, however, SIS allows scientists to construct materials with much more complex geometries.
S. Darling et al., "Making complex nanomaterials with molecular stencils," SPIE (January 20, 2010)