Nano Letters

Hierarchical assembly of nanostructured organosilicate networks via stereocomplexation of block copolymers

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The effect of the stereochemistry of polylactide (PLA)-based block copolymers on templated inorganic nanostructures has been investigated from the self-assembly of a stereoisomer pair/organosilicate mixture followed by organosilicate vitrification and copolymer thermolysis. Isomeric PLA homopolymers, block copolymers, and a stereoblock copolymer were prepared by ring-opening polymerization of r>, L-, or rac-laclide using an organocatalytic catalyst. Both differential scanning calorimetry and atomic force microscopy showed the formation of a stereocomplex between enantiomeric stereoisomers, that is, block copolymer/block copolymer and block copolymer/homopolymer mixtures as well as a stereoblock copolymer. The unique noncovalent interactions driven by stereocomplexation of D- and L-lactide provided supramolecular structures with a hierarchical order as characterized by distinctive vertical and horizontal growth of toroidal nanostructured inorganic features. This study demonstrates the potential of hierarchically assembling suprastructures that bridge the nano- to mesoscale feature sizes in the design of tunable functional nanomaterials suitable for future applications of microelectronics, material science, and bioengineering. ©2008 American Chemical Society.