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Prof. Aurelio Mateo-Alonso has published an article in Nature

Ikerbasque Research Professor Aurelio Mateo-Alonso at POLYMAT and at the University of the Basque Country, in collaboration with researchers from KU Leuven and the University of Aveiro, have published today an article in Nature that provides literally snapshots of the formation and growth of 2D polymers with submolecular resolution.


Aurelio Mateo-Alonso and Marta Martíne-Abadía, co-authors of the work

We can no longer imagine life without polymers. Products made of polymers are all around us, ranging from clothing made from synthetic fibers to plastic lenses in glasses. Polymers are formed when small molecules called monomers are linked together to form long chains. If a monomer reacts with more than two other monomers, sheets with a periodic internal structure can be formed, called two-dimensional (2D) polymers. Some of these 2D polymers are porous and could be used as membranes. Other types are promising for advanced electronics. How these 2D polymers are exactly formed remains a mystery. It’s important to know though their
formation mechanism to boost the size and structural perfection of these interesting materials.

A team from KU Leuven (Belgium), POLYMAT and the University of the Basque Country (Spain), and the University of Aveiro (Portugal) have joint forces to provide insight in the mechanistic and kinetic aspects of these reactions leading to the formation of 2D polymers. They used scanning tunnelling microscopy, an advanced type of non-optical microscopy, to follow in real-time, as bonds form and break, molecule by molecule, the birth and growth of these 2D polymers on a solid support immersed in a reactive solution. Supported by theory, they showed that several growth mechanisms co-exist and controlling them leads to the formation of high-quality arge-size polymer sheets.