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Interface Directed Assembly

Interface Directed Assembly

The overarching goal of the Interface Directed Assembly (IDA) theme is to understand the impact of interfacial architecture on the formation, structure, and response of functional materials.  Understanding the role of interfaces in driving key steps in material formation is essential to the predictive design of new classes of nanoscale and responsive materials.  In parallel to, and intertwined with, the development of direct write techniques or conventional nanofabrication processes that actively shape or form materials into particular geometries, we recognize the need to develop interfaces that can be used to push materials into desired states over extended length scales by tuning local enthalpic and entropic interactions as a means of achieving desired structural and morphological properties that ultimately translate into targeted material function and responsive behavior.

This theme addresses the specific aims of

  1. Directed molecular assembly: examining the beginning stages of material assembly to understand the motion and coordination of individual building blocks at interfaces in two dimensions. 
  2. Assembly of higher order systems: focusing on understanding the influence of the interface in the processing and development of hierarchical and hybrid material systems in three dimensions.
  3. Reorganization and response of assembled materials: understand the role of the interface in shaping the dynamic reorganization and response of assembled macromolecular materials, i.e. lipid bilayers and copolymer membrane mimics.

The work in this theme builds largely upon the experience gained in the previous “Functional Polymer and Hybrid Architectures” theme, which investigated the chemical and physical mechanisms of the self-assembly of macromolecular and hybrid materials. The research also relies on insights gained (and methods established) in the “Collective Phenomena in Nanophases” effort, which included studies to understand how confinement and crowding influence collective behavior in chemical transport and reactivity.

Users will benefit from close coordination of efforts across the CNMS to provide an integrated framework with close feedback between computational modeling efforts and experiment.   New classes of computational models that are capable of dealing with a broader range of molecule- substrate interactions will be developed.  Additionally, advancing CNMS capabilities in defining interfaces with tailored physicochemical architecture, creating new methods for synthesizing tunable molecular building blocks, and refining methods for collecting and correlating data across spatiotemporal scales using in situ imaging and characterization tools will have broad implications for our user community.  Collectively, and in concert, these efforts will open up new avenues to assembling soft matter and nanomaterials over extended length scales within functional architectures that lead to advances across fields such as photonics, biology, and fluid dynamics.