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Hierarchically Structured Vanadium Pentoxide–Polymer Hybrid Materials

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posted on 27.05.2014, 00:00 by Ulrich Tritschler, Igor Zlotnikov, Paul Zaslansky, Peter Fratzl, Helmut Schlaad, Helmut Cölfen
Biomimetic composite materials consisting of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) and a liquid crystal (LC) “gluing” polymer were manufactured exhibiting six structural levels of hierarchy, formed through LC phases. The organic matrix was a polyoxazoline with pendant cholesteryl and carboxyl units, forming a lyotropic phase with the same structural orientation extending up to hundreds of micrometers upon shearing, and binding to V2O5 via hydrogen bridges. Composites consisting of V2O5–LC polymer hybrid fibers with a pronounced layered structuring were obtained. The V2O5–LC polymer hybrid fibers consist of aligned V2O5 ribbons, composed of self-assembled V2O5 sheets, encasing a chiral nematic polymer matrix. The structures of the V2O5–LC polymer composites strongly depend on the preparation method, i.e., the phase-transfer method from aqueous to organic medium, in which the polymer forms LC phases. Notably, highly defined micro- and nanostructures were obtained when initiating the synthesis using V2O5 tactoids with preoriented nanoparticle building units, even when using isotropic V2O5 dispersions. Shear-induced hierarchical structuring of the composites was observed, as characterized from the millimeter and micrometer down to the nanometer length scales using complementary optical and electron microscopy, SAXS, μCT, and mechanical nanoindentation.