The lattice of a honeycomb or the symmetry of a diatom are among complex living structures whose patterns and shapes have long inspired scientists. One recent application is to develop artificial hierarchical porous materials that are stable, yet have a large surface area and the ability to selectively extract materials. The complexity and pattern repeatability across scales from individual compartments to the entire structure, have made it difficult to build them at the nanoscale.
A team from KAUST, led by Suzana Nunes, has proposed a simple method that, in just five minutes, can produce a flexible film with a complex hierarchical structure that has repeating patterns of interconnected, regularly shaped pores.
Image: The repeating regular hierarchical structures are shown by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images that illustrate how the honeycomb structure has formed at the surface of the material (top) and within the material (bottom).