The research project aims to prepare and investigate organic materials which may create a bridge between the worlds of microelectronics and biology which is one of the current challenges in nanotechnology.
Such materials should "speak the language" of the biomaterials they are supposed to interact with. Many biomaterials achieve their highly specialized and often extraordinary properties with hierarchical structure formation, i.e., the presence and control of structural order on different length scales. Therefore, the targeted synthetic materials ought to provide the chemical functionality for an interaction with biological systems on the molecular level, and also exhibit a similar degree of hierarchical structure formation in order to "mimic" the functioning of the latter. At the same time, they should also provide properties that are not general features of biomaterials, such as electric (semi-) conductivity, which may make them targets for applications in combination with microelectronic devices.
As the control of secondary and higher structure formation in synthetic polymers is still a challenge, we decided to make use of supramolecular self-assembly for this purpose. We plan to prepare molecules which, due to their molecular structure, spontaneously self-organize into aggregates with well-defined hierarchical structures. The molecules are envisioned to contain diacetylene or higher oligoyne functions, which are to serve as carbon-only precursors for carbon-rich, potentially conducting materials, such as graphitic ribbons with a width of a few nanometers. The conversion of the molecular precursors into covalent organic materials is envisioned to be achieved within the supramolecular aggregates under retention of their hierarchical structure. The result would, therefore, be optoelectronically active organic materials with a high degree of chemical functionalization and, likewise, well-defined hierarchical structure.These materials as well as their precursors are to be characterized with advanced spectroscopic as well as imaging techniques, and they are going to be investigated with respect to their materials properties.