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Collective osmotic shock in ordered materials


Osmotic shock in a vesicle or cell is the stress build-up and subsequent rupture of the phospholipid membrane that occurs when a relatively high concentration of salt is unable to cross the membrane and instead an inflow of water alleviates the salt concentration gradient. This is a well-known failure mechanism for cells and vesicles (for example, hypotonic shock) and metal alloys (for example, hydrogen embrittlement)1,2,3. We propose the concept of collective osmotic shock, whereby a coordinated explosive fracture resulting from multiplexing the singular effects of osmotic shock at discrete sites within an ordered material results in regular bicontinuous structures. The concept is demonstrated here using self-assembled block copolymer micelles, yet it is applicable to organized heterogeneous materials where a minority component can be selectively degraded and solvated whilst ensconced in a matrix capable of plastic deformation. We discuss the application of these self-supported, perforated multilayer materials in photonics, nanofiltration and optoelectronics.

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Figure 1: The microstructure of collective osmotic shock generated perforated multilayers.
Figure 2: The role of ultraviolet dosage and acetic acid on collective osmotic shock.
Figure 3: The application and inorganic transformation of collective osmotic shock materials.


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We would like to acknowledge S. Vignolini, C. Wang (beamline, LBNL), S. Alvarez, C. Lopez and Q. Song, and the insightful comments of U. Steiner and E. J. Kramer. This work was funded by the Qatar Foundation (QNRF), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT), the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MICINN, Consolider HOPE) and the Government of Andalucía.

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All authors participated in discussions of the research and wrote the manuscript. P.Z-R., K.C., V.N. and E.S. contributed to structural characterization and phenomenology of the COS effects, S.K.N. and S.A.A-M. developed the filtration studies, D.K. and R.H.F. developed the optoelectronic application, H.M. and M.E.C. developed the photonic applications and A.H. provided X-ray characterization of the COS structures.

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Correspondence to Easan Sivaniah.

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Zavala-Rivera, P., Channon, K., Nguyen, V. et al. Collective osmotic shock in ordered materials. Nature Mater 11, 53–57 (2012).

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