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Nature. 2010 Nov 18;468(7322):422-5. doi: 10.1038/nature09540.

Free-standing mesoporous silica films with tunable chiral nematic structures.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, 2036 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z1, Canada.

Abstract

Chirality at the molecular level is found in diverse biological structures, such as polysaccharides, proteins and DNA, and is responsible for many of their unique properties. Introducing chirality into porous inorganic solids may produce new types of materials that could be useful for chiral separation, stereospecific catalysis, chiral recognition (sensing) and photonic materials. Template synthesis of inorganic solids using the self-assembly of lyotropic liquid crystals offers access to materials with well-defined porous structures, but only recently has chirality been introduced into hexagonal mesostructures through the use of a chiral surfactant. Efforts to impart chirality at a larger length scale using self-assembly are almost unknown. Here we describe the development of a photonic mesoporous inorganic solid that is a cast of a chiral nematic liquid crystal formed from nanocrystalline cellulose. These materials may be obtained as free-standing films with high surface area. The peak reflected wavelength of the films can be varied across the entire visible spectrum and into the near-infrared through simple changes in the synthetic conditions. To the best of our knowledge these are the first materials to combine mesoporosity with long-range chiral ordering that produces photonic properties. Our findings could lead to the development of new materials for applications in, for example, tuneable reflective filters and sensors. In addition, this type of material could be used as a hard template to generate other new materials with chiral nematic structures.

PMID:
21085176
DOI:
10.1038/nature09540
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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