Understanding and controlling solid-state morphologies and molecular conformations is the key to optimizing the properties of materials. As an example for the influence of small chemical changes on solid-state structures, we studied oligo(m-phenylene ethynylene) foldamers, where the introduction of an endo-methyl group induces a transition from an extended all-transoid to a helical all-cisoid conformation. The resulting structural changes were analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), polarized optical microscopy (POM), and low-dose high-resolution electron microscopy (LD-HREM) over several length scales from the molecular to the mesoscopic level. The strong tendency of the endo-methyl oligomer 1 to form stable compact helices in solution resulted in round droplets with an ordered hexagonal columnar (Colho) liquid crystalline structure, where shrinkage during the crystallization resulted in the formation of a banded texture. On the other hand, the endo-hydrogen oligomer 2 exhibited a very different morphology; its extended linear shape was maintained during crystallization and resulted in an extended lamellar structure, which was determined by a compromise between crystalline packing and minimization of the surface area. Another pronounced difference between both molecular structures was the ability of the extended lamellar "crystals" to bend, whereas the helices form either straight or disordered domains. In addition, both materials exhibit strong surface effects, which extend considerably inside the droplet and induce uniform bending of the supramolecular structures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry