Aggregate nanostructures of organic molecular materials.Acc Chem Res. 2010 Dec 21; 43(12):1496-508.AC
Conjugated organic molecules are interesting materials because of their structures and their electronic, electrical, magnetic, optical, biological, and chemical properties. However, researchers continue to face great challenges in the construction of well-defined organic compounds that aggregate into larger molecular materials such as nanowires, tubes, rods, particles, walls, films, and other structural arrays. Such nanoscale materials could serve as direct device components. In this Account, we describe our recent progress in the construction of nanostructures formed through the aggregation of organic conjugated molecules and in the investigation of the optical, electrical, and electronic properties that depend on the size or morphology of these nanostructures. We have designed and synthesized functional conjugated organic molecules with structural features that favor assembly into aggregate nanostructures via weak intermolecular interactions. These large-area ordered molecular aggregate nanostructures are based on a variety of simpler structures such as fullerenes, perylenes, anthracenes, porphyrins, polydiacetylenes, and their derivatives. We have developed new methods to construct these larger structures including organic vapor-solid phase reaction, natural growth, association via self-polymerization and self-organization, and a combination of self-assembly and electrochemical growth. These methods are both facile and reliable, allowing us to produce ordered and aligned aggregate nanostructures, such as large-area arrays of nanowires, nanorods, and nanotubes. In addition, we can synthesize nanoscale materials with controlled properties. Large-area ordered aggregate nanostructures exhibit interesting electrical, optical, and optoelectronic properties. We also describe the preparation of large-area aggregate nanostructures of charge transfer (CT) complexes using an organic solid-phase reaction technique. By this process, we can finely control the morphologies and sizes of the organic nanostructures on wires, tubes, and rods. Through field emission studies, we demonstrate that the films made from arrays of CT complexes are a new kind of cathode materials, and we systematically investigate the effects of size and morphology on electrical properties. Low-dimension organic/inorganic hybrid nanostructures can be used to produce new classes of organic/inorganic solid materials with properties that are not observed in either the individual nanosize components or the larger bulk materials. We developed the combined self-assembly and templating technique to construct various nanostructured arrays of organic and inorganic semiconductors. The combination of hybrid aggregate nanostructures displays distinct optical and electrical properties compared with their individual components. Such hybrid structures show promise for applications in electronics, optics, photovoltaic cells, and biology. In this Account, we aim to provide an intuition for understanding the structure-function relationships in organic molecular materials. Such principles could lead to new design concepts for the development of new nonhazardous, high-performance molecular materials on aggregate nanostructures.