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Nanoscale Structure of Self-Assembling Hybrid Materials of Inorganic and Electronically Active Organic Phases

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journal contribution
posted on 02.04.2020, 13:33 by Marina Sofos, David A. Stone, Dipak K. Goswami, John S. Okasinski, Hua Jin, Michael J. Bedzyk, Samuel I. Stupp
Hybrid materials with nanoscale structure that incorporates inorganic and organic phases with electronic properties offer potential in an extensive functional space that includes photovoltaics, light emission, and sensing. This work describes the nanoscale structure of model hybrid materials with phases of silica and electronically active bola-amphiphile assemblies containing either oligo(p-phenylene vinylene) or oligo(thiophene) segments. The hybrid materials studied here were synthesized by evaporation-induced self-assembly and characterized by X-ray scattering techniques. Grazing-incidence X-ray scattering studies of these materials revealed the formation of two-dimensional hexagonally packed cylindrical micelles of the organic molecules with diameters between 3.1 and 3.6 nm and cylindrical axes parallel to the surface. During the self-assembly process at low pH, the cylindrical aggregates of conjugated molecules become surrounded by silica giving rise to a hybrid structure with long-range order. Specular X-ray reflectivity confirmed the long-range periodicity of the hybrid films within a specific range of molar ratios of tetraethyl orthosilicate to cationic amphiphile. We did not observe any long-range ordering in fully organic analogues unless quaternary ammonium groups were replaced by tertiary amines. These observations suggest that charge screening in these biscationic conjugated molecules by the mineral phase is a key factor in the evolution of long range order in the self-assembling hybrids.