Order at extreme dilution

Alexandra Alvarez Fernandez, Roel Hammink, Stijn Kragt, Laura Cattaneo, Matteo Savoini, Jeroen van der Velden, Theo Rasing, Alan E. Rowan, Peter J. Collings, Paul H.J. Kouwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Control over the organization of assemblies from molecular dimensions up to the macroscopic length scale is an outstanding challenge in science, above all for materials in high dilution. Instead of inducing order by generating very long and stiff structures, an alternative approach is studied: a two-component assembly of a semiflexible polymer with a (self-assembling) chromonic liquid crystal. By following the structure formation in time using different techniques, a mechanistic model is proposed that explains how such unusually well-defined materials can be created from flexible components. It is concluded that at this very low concentration (>99.6% water), these macroscopically organized structures can only be formed when the energies between different assembly states and their interconversion rates are properly balanced. This may, however, be in reach for a wide range of materials, which makes this a generic route toward high definition at low concentration without the need for long and rigid building blocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9009-9016
Number of pages8
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2016


  • chromonic liquid crystals
  • high dilution
  • macroscopic anisotropy
  • self-assembly
  • semiflexible polymers


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