Nanocasting nanoporous inorganic and organic materials from polymeric bicontinuous microemulsion templates

Brad H. Jones, Timothy P. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Ternary blends of two homopolymers and a diblock copolymer can self-assemble into interpenetrating, three-dimensionally continuous networks with a characteristic length scale of ∼ 100 nm. In this review, we summarize our recent work demonstrating that these equilibrium fluid phases, known as polymeric bicontinuous microemulsions (BμE), can be designed as versatile precursors to nanoporous materials having pores with uniform sizes of ∼100 nm. As a model system, nanoporous polyethylene (PE) is derived from BμEs composed entirely of polyolefins. This monolithic material is then used as a template in the synthesis of other nanoporous materials for which structural control at the nm scale has traditionally been difficult to achieve. These materials, which include a high-temperature ceramic, polymeric thermosets and a conducting polymer, are produced by a simple nanocasting process, providing an inverse replica of the PE template. The PE is further used as a template for the production of hierarchically structured inorganic and polymeric materials by infiltration of mesostructured compounds into its pore network. The work described herein represents an unprecedented suite of nanoporous materials with well-defined pore structures prepared from a single PE template. They are anticipated to have potential application in diverse technological areas, including catalysis, separations and electronic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-146
Number of pages16
JournalPolymer Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation through the University of Minnesota MRSEC, Award DMR-0819885. Graduate School and Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships from the University of Minnesota (BHJ) are gratefully acknowledged. Portions of this work were carried out using instrumentation provided by the University of Minnesota Characterization Facility. We thank Michael Bluemle, Kevin Cavicchi, Kai-Yuan Cheng, Soo-Hyung Choi, Melissa Fierke, Guillaume Fleury, Lorraine Francis, Chris Frethem, Brian Habersberger, Robert Hafner, Russell Holmes, Hau-Nan Lee, Yu Lei, Chun Liu, Ameara Mansour, Lucas McIntosh, Adam Moughton, Andreas Stein, Jared Stoeger, Rajiv Taribagil, Wei Xie and Wei Zhang for their assistance and helpful discussions.


  • ceramics
  • hierarchically structured materials
  • nanocasting
  • poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)
  • polyethylene
  • polymeric bicontinuous microemulsions
  • thermosets


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