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‘Molecular Paper’ Developed by Berkeley Lab Scientists

Scientists have created largest self-assembled, two-dimensional nano-sheets formed in water to date

Story content courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US

prototype
Ron Zuckermann (left) and Ki Tae Nam with Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, have developed a ‘molecular paper’ material whose properties can be precisely tailored to control the flow of molecules, or serve as a platform for chemical and biological detection (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs).

This entirely new material mirrors the structural complexity of biological systems with the durable architecture needed for membranes or integration into functional devices.

These self-assembling sheets are made of peptoids, engineered polymers that can flex and fold like proteins while maintaining the robustness of manmade materials. Each sheet is just two molecules thick yet hundreds of square micrometers in area—akin to ‘molecular paper’ large enough to be visible to the naked eye.

Unlike a typical polymer, each building block in a peptoid nanosheet is encoded with structural ‘marching orders’—suggesting its properties can be precisely tailored to an application. For example, these nanosheets could be used to control the flow of molecules, or serve as a platform for chemical and biological detection.

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