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Aligned Nanostructured Polymers by Magnetic-Field-Directed Self-Assembly of a Polymerizable Lyotropic Mesophase

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journal contribution
posted on 26.11.2014, 00:00 by Marissa E. Tousley, Xunda Feng, Menachem Elimelech, Chinedum O. Osuji
Magnetic-field-directed assembly of lyotropic surfactant mesophases provides a scalable approach for the fabrication of aligned nanoporous polymers by templated polymerization. We develop and characterize a lyotropic liquid crystalline system containing hexagonally packed cylindrical micelles of a polymerizable surfactant in a polymerizable solvent. The system exhibits negative magnetic anisotropy, resulting in the degenerate alignment of cylindrical micelles perpendicular to the magnetic field. Sample rotation during field alignment is used to effectively break this degeneracy and enable the production of uniformly well-aligned mesophases. High-fidelity retentions of the hexagonal structure and alignment were successfully achieved in polymer films produced upon UV exposure of the reactive system. The success of this effort provides a route for the fabrication of aligned nanoporous membranes suitable for highly selective separations, sensing, and templated nanomaterial synthesis.