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Liquid crystal templating as an approach to spatially and temporally organise soft matter

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Abstract

Chemistry quickly moves from a molecular science to a systems science. This requires spatial and temporal control over the organisation of molecules and molecular assemblies. Whilst Nature almost by default (transiently) organises her components at multiple different length scales, scientists struggle to realise even relatively straightforward patterns. In the past decades, supramolecular chemistry has taught us the rules to precisely engineer molecular assembly at the nanometre scale. At higher length scales, however, we are bound to top-down nanotechnology techniques to realise order. For soft, biological matter, many of these top-down techniques come with serious limitations since the molecules generally show low susceptibilities to the applied stimuli. A new method is based on liquid crystal templating. In this hierarchical approach, a liquid crystalline host serves as the scaffold to order polymers or assemblies. Being a liquid crystal, the host material can be ordered at many different length scales and on top of that, is highly susceptible to many external stimuli, which can even be used to manipulate the liquid crystal organisation in time. As a result, we anticipate large control over the organisation of the materials inside the liquid crystalline host. Recently, liquid crystal templating was also realised in water. This suddenly makes this tool highly applicable to start organising more delicate biological materials or even small organisms. We review the scope and limitations of liquid crystal templating and look out to where the technique may lead us.

Graphical abstract: Liquid crystal templating as an approach to spatially and temporally organise soft matter

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Publication details

The article was received on 01 Jan 2017 and first published on 24 Jul 2017


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00029D
Citation: Chem. Soc. Rev., 2017, Advance Article
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    Liquid crystal templating as an approach to spatially and temporally organise soft matter

    P. van der Asdonk and P. H. J. Kouwer, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00029D

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