Self-Organized Functional Materials


Many functional materials rely on a well-organized internal structure for their output properties, and this makes them suitable for a variety of applications. Indeed, the control of the macroscopic molecular arrangement is essential for certain properties to manifest or to be enhanced. Our research is located in the current interest on self-organized functional materials and is motivated by our long-time research on molecularly ordered materials based on liquid crystals, and the possibilities of tuning their properties by modification of their composing units. Accordingly, our work is aimed at investigating on materials consisting of molecular building blocks encoded with functionality as well as with possibilities of self-organization. The final end is to create functional materials with well defined molecular architectures that enable structural- and order-dependent properties with application in four fields of current fundamental and technological interest: optical materials for nonlinear optics (NLO) or lasing applications, organic semiconductors, chiral supramolecular systems or nanostructured porous materials. To reach this final goal, it is necessary to identify the molecular architecture that may prove useful for a given property and then plan the most appropriate approach towards the desired functional molecular architecture. We currently work on three approaches to molecular organization that arises from the particular characteristics of three types of material: liquid crystals, physical gels and crystals.


   Our main approach is aimed at exploiting mesogenic driving forces to generate functional architectures by the self-organization of molecules into defined mesophases. In this respect, and on the basis of our experience in previous projects, we are taking the most of bent-core liquid crystals and columnar liquid crystals to reach functional architectures.


Our second approach deals with solvent-assisted molecular aggregation. We recently began to explore new approaches to control the assembly of functional non-conventional bent-core, discotic or rod-shaped molecules in solvents. This type of systems results very useful as a strategy to craft ordered supramolecular assemblies with tunable properties. Depending on the molecular characteristics and/or concentration, either aggregates in solution or gel materials can be obtained. In both cases, molecular assemblies with controlled morphologies, such as nanofibers, nanobelts, etc., can be achieved, which are promising candidates to approach new applications in nanoscale devices.


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         As a third approach, crystal-engineering is explored as a means to potentiate intermolecular interactions in the design of new solids with the desired molecular organization and, hence, physical properties.









         In all three approaches, our research deals with organic molecular materials, which are especially attractive because of their wide possibilities for molecular design and their easy processing under ambient conditions. Furthermore, the possibilities offered by supramolecular chemistry, for the control of intermolecular interactions via non-covalent interactions, i.e. H-bonding, halogen-bonding, π-interactions, ion-dipole interactions, are very useful in the design of stable molecular organizations in which the information encoded in the molecule is transmitted effectively to the molecular assembly.

Some recent publications:


Hierarchical Self -Assembly of Polymeric Soft Systems.
Code: 607602       Entity: 7th Framework Programme, UE




Supramolecular Strategies for the Optimization of Functional Organic Materials
Code: PGC2018-093761-B-C31

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            Financial support:  Gobierno de Aragón  MINECO   FECYT