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Research Zernike (ZIAM) News Seminars

Nathan van Zee: Exploiting monomeric water in apolar environments to control the structure of supramolecular polymers

When:Tu 13-02-2018 15:45 - 16:45

Water directs the self-assembly of both natural and synthetic molecules to form precise yet dynamic structures. Nevertheless, our understanding of the role of water on a molecular level remains startlingly incomplete, representing a fundamental constraint in the development of next-generation functional supramolecular materials. This is especially the case for the formation of aggregates in alkanes even though these solvents are widely used in supramolecular chemistry. The most likely reason is that water is only sparingly miscible, since typical alkanes contain less than 0.01% water by weight at room temperature. A remarkable and often-overlooked feature of water in highly apolar environments is that it is essentially monomeric. In alkanes, this unique phenomenon gives rise to "high energy" water molecules that possess potential enthalpic energy in the form of unrealized hydrogen bonds. In this talk, I will present how this energy is a thermodynamic driving force for water molecules to interact with co-dissolved hydrogen bond-based aggregates in alkanes. Through a combination of spectroscopic, calorimetric, light scattering, and theoretical experiments, I will demonstrate that this interaction can be exploited to control the structure of supramolecular polymers.