Using Nanoscopic Solvent Defects for the Spatial and Temporal Manipulation of Single Assemblies of Molecules

Soumik Das, Jung Hyun Noh, Wei Cao, Hao Sun, Nathan C. Gianneschi*, Nicholas L. Abbott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Here we report the use of defects in ordered solvents to form, manipulate, and characterize individual molecular assemblies of either small-molecule amphiphiles or polymers. The approach exploits nanoscopic control of the structure of nematic solvents (achieved by the introduction of topological defects) to trigger the formation of molecular assemblies and the subsequent manipulation of defects using electric fields. We show that molecular assemblies formed in solvent defects slow defect motion in the presence of an electric field and that time-of-flight measurements correlate with assembly size, suggesting methods for the characterization of single assemblies of molecules. Solvent defects are also used to transport single assemblies of molecules between solvent locations that differ in composition, enabling the assembly and disassembly of molecular "nanocontainers". Overall, our results provide new methods for studying molecular self-assembly at the single-assembly level and new principles for integrated nanoscale chemical systems that use solvent defects to transport and position molecular cargo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7506-7514
Number of pages9
JournalNano letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 28 2022


  • assembly dynamics
  • defects
  • molecular transport
  • nematic solvents
  • self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • General Materials Science


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