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Hollow multishell structures exercise temporal–spatial ordering and dynamic smart behaviour


A hollow multishell structure (HoMS) is an assembly of multiple shells with voids between the individual shells. Accessible through nanopores, these voids represent separate reaction environments in the same assembly, such that HoMSs have unique properties that are applicable to diverse fields. These applications have mostly exploited the large specific surface area, high loading capacity and/or buffering effect of HoMSs, benefiting the mass/energy transmission and effective surface area. In comparison, the temporal–spatial ordering of reactions, as well as the dynamic smart behaviour of HoMSs, have been less explored but are also emphasized in this Perspective. We first describe the synthesis of HoMSs and the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of their formation. We then consider the composition and structural functionalization of each shell within a HoMS and then highlight how these enable applications based on temporal–spatial ordering and dynamic smart behaviour.

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Fig. 1: The key parameters of HoMSs and how they can be exploited in new applications.
Fig. 2: Targeted HoMS synthesis involves a template undergoing enrichment with a metal salt.
Fig. 3: A salt-enriched template can be degraded to afford a HoMS.
Fig. 4: Compositional and structural diversity of a HoMS.
Fig. 5: A HoMS can exact temporal–spatial control, a property that forms the basis of many applications.
Fig. 6: A dynamic smart HoMS in drug delivery and molecular separation.


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 21590795, 21820102002 and 51802306) and the Scientific Instrument Developing Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant no. YZ201623).

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D.W. conceived the idea and supervised the research. Under the instruction of D.W., J.Y.W., J.W.W and N.Y. drafted the manuscript. Q.L. gave important advice about dynamic smart materials. D.W., J.Y.W., J.W.W., N.Y and Q.L. revised and fixed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dan Wang.

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Wang, J., Wan, J., Yang, N. et al. Hollow multishell structures exercise temporal–spatial ordering and dynamic smart behaviour. Nat Rev Chem 4, 159–168 (2020).

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