Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2015, vol 54, 16, pp. 4963-4967
A novel approach is presented for the encapsulation of organic functional molecules between two sheets of 1 nm thin silicate layers, which like glass are transparent and chemically stable. An ordered heterostructure with organic interlayers strictly alternating with osmotically swelling sodium interlayers can be spontaneously delaminated into double stacks with the organic interlayers sandwiched between two silicate layers. The double stacks show high aspect ratios of >1000 (typical lateral extension 5000 nm, thickness 4.5 nm). This newly developed technique can be used to mask hydrophobic functional molecules and render them completely dispersible in water. The combination of the structural anisotropy of the silicate layers and a preferred orientation of molecules confined in the interlayer space allows polymer nanocomposite films to be cast with a well-defined orientation of the encapsulated molecules, thus rendering the optical properties of the nanocoatings anisotropic.