The Supramolecular Chemistry of Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Materials
Supramolecular chemistry, which is basically devoted to the study of the interaction between molecules, and materials chemistry, dealing with the development of solids with specific properties, are two powerful disciplines that have traditionally been poorly interrelated. Only the drive to create ever faster, ever more affordable, and ever more convenient technologies with a myriad of new and advanced features has tempted materials scientists to push the boundaries to ever smaller components and chemical researchers to design ever larger supramolecular structures, both entering into the interfacial zone of nanotechnology and nanochemistry. Function is the keyword here, especially when the aim is to design â€œsmartâ€ or â€œintelligentâ€ materials. Inorganic supports are often inert and do not display many functions. In contrast, organic molecules can have a rich functionality, yet an ensemble of them in a disordered stateâ€”whether in solution or randomly adsorbed on a surfaceâ€”often does not perform as desired. Thus, at the dawn of nanotechnology research in the late 1980s, chemists and materials scientists realized that a combination of their skills might be more successful in approaching the aims than to stay on the beaten tracks. Hence, the rapidly growing world of organicâ€“inorganic hybrid materials emerged, producing nanoscopic matter with a plethora of novel properties and functions.
Although the basic idea to combine inorganic materials with functional organic molecules might sound straightforward, its realization is connected to several challenges. Of course, â€œsmartâ€ hybrid materials cannot be obtained simply by teaching organic molecules to sit on an inorganic support and solve a Sudoku, play tennis, or sing a number-one hit. Organic functions on inorganic supports have to be organized and have to be orchestrated in their action, which often involves sophisticated chemistry and a structuring and patterning of the inorganic partner at molecular dimensions. At this stage, supramolecular concepts and tools from nanotechnology come into play. Only a clever combination of these strategies and techniques allows the creation of tailor-made â€œhetero-supramolecularâ€ functionalities, showing new synergisms and unprecedented performance
|May 30, 2020
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