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Homeotropic Self-Alignment of Discotic Liquid Crystals for Nanoporous Polymer Films

Lugger, Jody A. M.; Mulder, Dirk J.; Bhattacharjee, Subham; Sijbesma, Rint P.

By 12 March 2019No Comments

ACS Nano, 2018, vol 12, 7, pp. 6714-6724



Nanostructured polymer films with continuous, membrane-spanning pores from polymerizable hexagonal columnar discotic liquid crystals (LCs) were fabricated. A robust alignment method was developed to obtain homeotropic alignment of columns between glass surfaces by adding a small amount of a tri(ethylene glycol) modified analogue of the mesogen as a dopant that preferentially wets glass. The homeotropic LC alignment was fixated via a photoinitiated free radical copolymerization of a high-temperature tolerant trisallyl mesogen with a divinyl ester. Removal of the hydrogen-bonded template from the aligned columns afforded a nanoporous network with pores of nearly 1 nm in diameter perpendicular to the surface, and without noticeable collapse of the nanopores. The effect of pore orientation was demonstrated by an adsorption experiment in which homeotropic film showed a threefold increase in the initial uptake rate of methylene blue compared to planarly aligned films.

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