Self organization and photopolymerisation produce new 2D-material
An international research team with members from the Technical University of Munich, the Deutsches Museum and Linköping University, among others, has now developed a new method to manufacture two-dimensional polymers. The discovery makes it possible to develop new ultrathin functional materials with highly defined and regular crystalline structures.
The manufacture, or polymerisation, of the material takes place in two steps. The researchers use a molecule known as “fantrip”. “Fantrip” is a contraction of “fluorinated anthracene triptycene”. This molecule is a merger of two different hydrocarbons – anthracene and triptycene. The specific properties of fantrip cause the molecules to spontaneously arrange themselves into a pattern when they are placed onto a graphite surface covered with an alkane. This process is known as “self-organization”.
The next step is the photopolymerisation itself, when the pattern is to be fixed with the aid of light. The molecules are illuminated by a violet laser that excites the electrons in the outermost electron shell. This causes strong and durable covalent bonds to form between the molecules.
The result is a porous two-dimensional polymer, half a nanometre thick, consisting of several hundred thousand molecules identically linked, in other words, a material with nearly perfect order, right down to the atomic level.