Letter | Published:

Swollen liquid-crystalline lamellar phase based on extended solid-like sheets

Nature volume 413, pages 504508 (04 October 2001) | Download Citation



Ordering particles at the nanometre length scale is a challenging and active research area in materials science. Several approaches have so far been developed, ranging from the manipulation of individual particles1,2 to the exploitation of self-assembly in colloids3. Nanometre-scale ordering is well known to appear spontaneously when anisotropic organic moieties form liquid-crystalline phases; this behaviour is also observed for anisotropic mineral nanoparticles4,5 resulting in the formation of nematic4,5,6,7, smectic8 and hexagonal9,10 mesophases. Here we describe a lyotropic liquid-crystalline lamellar phase comprising an aqueous dispersion of planar solid-like sheets in which all the atoms involved in a layer are covalently bonded. The spacing of these phosphatoantimonate single layers can be increased 100-fold, resulting in one-dimensional structures whose periodicity can be tuned from 1.5 to 225 nanometres. These highly organized materials can be mechanically or magnetically aligned over large pH and temperature ranges, and this property can be used to measure residual dipolar couplings for the structure determination of biomolecules by liquid-state NMR. We also expect that our approach will result in the discovery of other classes of mineral lyotropic lamellar phases.

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We thank the LURE and ESRF synchrotron radiation facilities for the award of beamtime, C. Bourgaux, P. Panine and T. Narayanan for technical support at D24 (LURE) and ID2 (ESRF), Y. Piffard for supplying us with 1g of H3Sb3P2O14 powder at the start of this work, C. Chaudemanche and X. Leguevel for their participation in the synthesis of large amounts of H3Sb3P2O14, F. Alvarez for pH measurements, S. Grolleau for TGA measurements, P. Berthault and D. Jeannerat for their help in NMR measurements and processing of the spectra, P. Sinaÿ and Y. Zhang for the gift of the pentasaccharide and J. P. Simorre for giving us access to a 18.7 T magnet while we were performing our SAXS experiments at the ESRF. Financial support from the Ministry of Education (PhD fellowship for F.C.), the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (PhD fellowships for B.L.), the Région Pays de Loire and the GDR-CNRS 690 FORMES (for D2O) is gratefully acknowledged.

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    • Jean-Christophe P. Gabriel

    Present address: Covalent Materials Inc., 1295 A 67th Street, California 94608, Emerville, USA.


  1. *Sciences Moléculaires aux Interfaces, FRE 2068 CNRS, 2 rue de Houssinière, BP 32229, F-44322 Nantes Cedex 3, France

    • Jean-Christophe P. Gabriel
    • , Franck Camerel
    •  & Patrick Batail
  2. ‡Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, UMR 8502 CNRS, Université Paris Sud, Bâtiment 510, Centre Universitaire, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France

    • Bruno J. Lemaire
    •  & Patrick Davidson
  3. §Service de Chimie Moléculaire, URA 331 CEA/CNRS Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France

    • Hervé Desvaux


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Correspondence to Jean-Christophe P. Gabriel or Patrick Batail.

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