Catching Light with 3D Hybrid Nanostructures

illustration of 3D self-assembled optical nanomaterials under illumination enlarge

An illustration of 3D self-assembled optical nanomaterials under illumination, with a top-view scanning electron microscope image of the actual nanomesh nanomaterial in the background.

What is the scientific achievement?

CFN scientists developed a new method to create hybrid optical coatings with tunable antireflective properties; these coatings can also be converted to conductive three-dimensional (3D) nanomeshes. The team combined 3D block copolymer (BCP) self-assembly and heated liquid-phase infiltration of platinum (Pt) into nanostructured organic templates at metal loading fractions 1,500 percent higher (by volume per length) than those for room-temperature infiltration.

Why does this achievement matter?

This liquid-phase infiltration process enables rapid, high loading of metals into unique nanomorphologies. These hybrid nanomaterials have potential as smart optoelectronic coatings, catalysts, and sensors. The infiltration approach uses readily available metal-containing precursors and does not require specialized equipment.

What are the details?

Three-dimensional nanoarchitectures can offer enhanced material properties—for example, large surface areas that amplify structures’ interactions with environments, making them useful for various sensing applications. Self-assembled BCPs can readily generate various 3D nanomorphologies, but their conversion to useful inorganic materials remains one of the critical challenges limiting practical applications. In this study, CFN scientists developed a temperature-enhanced liquid-phase inorganic infiltration method, which enabled a fast infiltration of a tunable amount of Pt into one of the blocks of self-assembled 3D BCP films. The resulting Pt-3D BCP hybrids exhibit layer-number-dependent tunable antireflective functions, while 3D Pt nanomeshes derived from the hybrids show tailorable conductive properties. The new liquid-phase infiltration method has enhanced infiltration dynamics and yields, enabling the facile synthesis and fabrication of scalable, large-area, metal-containing 3D organic-inorganic hybrids and associated metal nanoarchitectures with potential applications in smart optical coatings, catalysis, and sensors.

CFN Capabilities

The CFN Materials Synthesis and Characterization, Nanofabrication, and Electron Microscopy Facilities were used in this study.

Publication Reference

A. Subramanian, N. Tiwale, G. Doerk, K. Kisslinger, C.-Y. Nam, “Enhanced Hybridization and Nanopatterning via Heated Liquid-Phase Infiltration into Self-Assembled Block Copolymer Thin Films,” ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 12, 1444 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b16148;



About the Cover:

Here, we developed a new, temperature-enhanced, liquid-phase ex-situ hybridization method with a surprisingly enhanced inorganic mass loading. By applying the method on hierarchically self-assembled block copolymer thin films, we demonstrated hybrid optical coatings with controllable visible reflectance and 3D conductive Pt nanomesh structures with potential utilities in sensors and catalysis.

Acknowledgement of Support

This research was carried out at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, which is a U.S. DOE Office of Science Facility, at Brookhaven National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-SC0012704.

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