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Aligning amphiphilic molecules on a water surface into large two-dimensional (2D) crystals by laser field


The self-assembly method of organizing water-insoluble molecules on water surfaces into Langmuir films is a common way to fabricate ordered monolayers. However, the 2D crystalline films formed on the water are composed of many grains all lying on the same face, but oriented randomly azimuthally into '2D powders'. The crystallites have a diameter that ranges typically between 100-1500Å.

Controlling the alignment and size of the growing 2D crystalline grains is the aim of this proposal. Ultimately, this would require grazing incidence X-ray diffraction techniques using synchrotron light and nonlinear optical techniques to detect and characterize the aligned crystalline mono- (or multi-) layers on the liquid surfaces. Due to its interdisciplinary character, the outcome of the project will be relevant to fields in physics, chemistry and biology.

From a physics point of view, the development of nonlinear optical methods to induce alignment of molecules on the water surface is a direct continuation to problems in the coherent control domain, which in the field of molecule-alignment has been focused to date in the gas phase. The challenge is in the design of amphiphilic systems that will form aligned 2D crystals via the laser field and their detect ion.

The success of the project will allow the preparation of significantly large 2D crystals and so provide a template for addressing questions in 2D-physics, interface physics, and chemistry and biology that occur at organic interfaces. In addition, it will provide new routes for the preparation of functional materials, especially in the nano-scale, which is of central interest in molecular electronics.

In addition, it may be possible to fabricate new organic 2 and 3D multilayer crystals employing Langmuir-Blodgett methods. Finally, it may prove possible by this method to form large 2D crystals of membranal proteins that are very difficult to obtain as 3D crystals.

Call for proposal

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Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus C