An international team of scientists has developed a new chemical system whose nanoscopic structure takes inspiration from the biological network of neurons. The system, published in Nature Communications, is formed by nanorings interconnected by nanorods. This network shows an unexpected capability for transmitting electrical information, which makes it an excellent electrically conducting material.
Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image of the network
These geometrically defined and interconnected networks are produced through self-assembly of small molecular building blocks designed in Dr. Kleij’s laboratory, at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia in Tarragona. The molecular building blocks interact with each other through noncovalent molecular interactions and form the network structure able to transfer information through these chemical interactions. Besides, the team is able to incorporate different metals inside the building blocks to tailor the electrochemical, magnetic and/or optoelectronic characteristics of the network.
Arjan Kleij’s research team, together with their collaborators in Germany, Portugal and Russia, studied the possibility of using this new chemical system to transfer electrical information. The network was used as a positional template for multiwalled carbon nanotubes. The carbon nanotubes in contact with the system collinearly self-assembled onto the rods and rings in the network generating an electrically conducting material.
Full ring structure from a multimolecular thick chain
This new nano-conducting material has potential direct uses in molecular circuits or more powerful nanoelectronic materials. Interesting opportunities for the use of these systems in different fields, such as sensoring platforms, integrated circuits and composite materials will arise.
The research team is now further investigating the system and its potential application with polymers to generate plastic semiconducting materials that could be used in tablets and mobile phones’ devices.
Reference: Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2648 doi:10.1038/ncomms3648
In the media:
– SINC: Una red de ‘neuronas químicas’ conduce la electricidad
– Sólo Ciencia: Una red de ‘neuronas químicas’ conduce la electricidad
– Tendencias21: Un nanosistema químico imita a las redes neuronales para transportar energía eléctrica