nanoscale building blocks and “pre-assemble” them in different arrangements that can be used as a building material for matter with structure at larger scales
Preassembled superball clusters form hierarchical assemblies. For more detailed explanation, refer to Shape and interaction decoupling for colloidal preassembly, Fig. 6

Prof. Greg van Anders and team at Queen’s University, in collaboration with teams at TU Delft, and the University of Amsterdam have shown that it is possible to take nanoscale building blocks and “pre-assemble” them in different arrangements that can be used as a building material for matter with structure at larger scales.

Chemists have given us very good control over structure at the molecular- and nanoscale. And 3D printing gives us good control at tangible scales. The tricky bit is in between.

The basic ability to pre-assemble identical pieces from different building blocks, and have them make the same structure, or to take the same building block and pre-assemble different pieces that make different structures, are really the basic ‘chess moves’ for engineering complex structures.

As someone who works on engineering new materials, any time I’m out for a hike with my family it is humbling to see the kinds of materials that have evolved in nature and realize how far we have to go. But we believe this work takes a step toward developing materials that we hope will realize organization that leverages what we can do at the nanoscale in ways that are less damaging to the environment.

Prof. van Anders

Source from Arts & Science News Mimicking nature’s structural complexity by Anne Craig.

Research findings are published in Shape and interaction decoupling for colloidal preassembly in Science Advances.

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