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Polymers and Crystals – a happy marriage

Speaker: Prof. Helmut Cölfen
Physical Chemistry, Konstanz University
Time: 2017-09-30 15:30
Place: ROOM 9004, Hefei National Laboratory Building


  Biominerals are remarkable materials with complex and often hierarchical structures (see image of sea urchin spine below) and superior physical properties compared to man made materials made at ambient conditions in aqueous environment. Biominerals are organic-inorganic hybrid materials and the crystallization of the inorganic mineral is highly controlled by organic – usually polymeric additives. The formation processes of Biominerals can be mimicked, which is the field of polymer controlled crystallization or bio-inspired mineralization. Polymers can have different and often multiple roles in a crystallization process. They can be a scaffold for mineral formation, complex ions, inhibit or enhance crystal nucleation, stabilize amorphous precursor faces, selectively adsorb on crystal faces changing their morphology, encode self organization of nanoparticles and many more. Examples for the various roles of polymers in crystallization processes to generate crystals with complex structures are given. Especially coding of nanoparticles by polymers for subsequent tailored aggregation of nanoparticles is an attractive new research field summarized as Nonclassical Crystallization. This crystallization path is based on nanoparticles instead of ions, atoms or molecules and offers new possibilities for the formation of crystals. These possibilities will be discussed too. However, not only crystal formation can be influenced by polymers but also crystal dissolution. A series of block copolymers will be introduced, which is designed to dissolve atherosclerotic plaques.

Organizer: Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale

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