Researchers in the US, China, Japan and France led by a group at Yale University are reporting on a new way to create single crystal texture in self-assembled soft materials – something that has been challenging to do so far since this involves aligning all the grains in a material into specific orientations.
The technique, which works over areas of more than 1 cm2 in a soft mesophase of a columnar discotic liquid crystal, involves two modes of directed self-assembly – physical confinement and magnetic fields.
Single crystals of materials are important in many areas of science, both for fundamental research and real-world applications. For example, the microelectronics industry requires the fabrication of high-mobility single-crystal silicon by the Czochralski seeded-growth process and modern aviation relies heavily on the single-crystal turbine blades used in jet engines.
Making such large quantities of single crystals of soft materials has proved nigh-on impossible so far but the new work is an important step forward to doing just this.
The French members of the team involved in this study are from ESPCI Paris, led by Lucas Sixdenier.
Read the research paper: Single crystal texture by directed molecular self-assembly along dual axes. Xunda Fenget al. Nature Materials 10.1038/s41563-019-0389-1.