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Nat Mater. 2002 Dec;1(4):229-31.

Long-range structuring of nanoparticles by mimicry of a cholesteric liquid crystal.

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Centre d'Elaboration de Matériaux et d'Etudes Structurales, CNRS, BP 4347, 31055 Toulouse cedex 4, France.


Patterning nano-objects is an exciting interdisciplinary research area in current materials science, arising from new optical and optoelectronic properties and the need to miniaturize electronic components. Many techniques have been developed for assembling nanoparticles into two- and three-dimensional arrays. Most studies involving liquid crystals as templates have dealt with colloidal particles and nematic and smectic phases. Here, we demonstrate the long-range ordering of nanoparticle assemblies that adopt the helical configuration of the cholesteric liquid crystalline phase. Because we used glass-forming cholesterics, the nanostructures could be examined by transmission electron microscopy. The platinum nanoparticles form periodic ribbons that mimic the well-known 'fingerprint' cholesteric texture. Surprisingly, the nanoparticles do not decorate the original cholesteric texture but create a novel helical structure with a larger helical pitch. By varying the molar fraction of cholesterol-containing mesogen in the liquid crystal host, we show that the distance between the ribbons is directly correlated to the pitch. Therefore this inherent lengthscale becomes a simple control parameter to tune the structuring of nanoparticles. These results demonstrate how such an assembly process could be modulated, providing a versatile route to new materials systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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