The new self-assembling nanosheet, developed by a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has the potential to greatly increase the durability of consumer products. Furthermore, the new material's recyclability could lead to a sustainable manufacturing method that prevents single-use packaging and electronics from ending up in landfills.
The team has achieved a groundbreaking milestone by successfully creating a versatile and high-performing barrier material using self-assembling nanosheets. Today, the journal Nature reported a significant breakthrough.
The development of functional and sustainable nanomaterials for electronics, energy storage, health and safety, and other applications could be significantly accelerated with the introduction of a new self-assembling nanosheet.
Ting Xu, the study's principal investigator, stated, "Our research successfully tackles a major challenge in nanoscience by advancing the scale of nanomaterial synthesis for practical manufacturing and commercial uses." "I'm thrilled because this has been in the works for decades."
Xu holds the position of faculty senior scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and also serves as a professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley.
Harvesting nanoscience to create functional materials presents a challenge as numerous small pieces must converge to allow the nanomaterial to reach a practical size. When it comes to growing nanomaterials, stacking nanosheets is a straightforward method. However, the presence of "stacking defects," such as gaps between the nanosheets, is inevitable when working with current nanosheets or nanoplatelets.
The problem of stacking defects is solved by the new nanosheet material, which avoids the serial stacked sheet approach altogether. Instead of the team using individual materials, they combined blends that self-assemble into small particles with alternating layers of the components, all suspended in a solvent. The system was designed using a combination of complex blends of nanoparticles, small molecules, and block copolymer-based supramolecules, all of which are commercially accessible.