Nature Communications

Hyperconnected molecular glass network architectures with exceptional elastic properties

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Hyperconnected network architectures can endow nanomaterials with remarkable mechanical properties that are fundamentally controlled by designing connectivity into the intrinsic molecular structure. For hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterials, here we show that by using 1,3,5 silyl benzene precursors, the connectivity of a silicon atom within the network extends beyond its chemical coordination number, resulting in a hyperconnected network with exceptional elastic stiffness, higher than that of fully dense silica. The exceptional intrinsic stiffness of these hyperconnected glass networks is demonstrated with molecular dynamics models and these model predictions are calibrated through the synthesis and characterization of an intrinsically porous hybrid glass processed from 1,3,5(triethoxysilyl)benzene. The proposed molecular design strategy applies to any materials system wherein the mechanical properties are controlled by the underlying network connectivity.