The giant tetrahedra: Breakthrough discovery leads to creation of new macromolecules

The giant tetrahedra: Breakthrough discovery leads to creation of new macromolecules

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A team led by Dr. Stephen Z.D. Cheng, Ph.D., professor at The University of Akron’s college of polymer science and polymer engineering, invented a new pathway in the design and synthesis of macromolecules by creating an original class of giant tetrahedra, a solid with four equal triangular faces. Through a reaction called “click chemistry,” these tetrahedron building blocks can then be precisely manipulated to unite with other tetrahedrons.

These precisely functionalized nanoparticles were achieved by extending the molecular geometry from traditional one-dimension categories of giant surfactants to three dimensions of tetrahedron shapes that are the simplest to use. Using computational and datadriven approaches, Dr. Cheng et al., first designed and synthesized giant tetrahedral. They introduced different functionality at the tetrahedral vertexes to generate precise positional interactions. Then they found a selective, multi-step assembly process of these giant tetrahedra resulting in highly ordered supramolecular lattices including a Frank-Kasper A15 phase at a nanometer scale. Finally, they observed the structure lattice in real space of the Frank-Kasper A15 phase under transmission electron microscopy. The new class of hybrid materials covers the development of a diverse range of novel applications.