What is it about?

New nanostructures can be obtained by self-assembling of molecules. However, these important processes are still largely unknown. For example it would be useful to know if channels with molecular-scale openings can help molecules to form ordered patterns, that is 'supramolecular structures' . Zeolite L contains many thousands of these nanochannels. We have loaded these nanochannels with dye molecules. We have seen that they organize in a unique supramolecular structure: the nanoladder. This shows that the zeolite may actually drive the self-assembling and organization of guest molecules.

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Why is it important?

Dye molecules in zeolite L are promising system to build optical devices, with applications in solar energy harvesting, information technology and diagnostics/health. Their excellent optical properties derive just from the supramolecular organization of dye molecules inside the zeolite. What these molecules do when they are forced to be very close together has never been explored. For the first time, we created these conditions and realized an unprecedented supramolecular architecture (the dye-nanoladder). Also we understood why the nanoladder can form in these conditions. All this information is precious for further improving the performances of these very versatile composites.


The dye nanoladder inspires the fascinating idea that supramolecular order imposed by high concentration in confined spaces may improve properties and extend applications of dye-zeolite based devices. This work sheds light on how dye molecules arrange when they are closely-packed inside nanometric channels and may inspire future studies on supramolecular organization in this previously unexplored regime.

Gloria Tabacchi
university of insubria

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Close-Packed Dye Molecules in Zeolite Channels Self-Assemble into Supramolecular Nanoladders, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, July 2014, American Chemical Society (ACS),
DOI: 10.1021/jp505600e.
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