Individual molecules were directly imaged using cryo-TEM to reveal the relationship between chemical structure and the crystalline lattice.
Significance and Impact
First determination of the position of individual atoms in a synthetic soft material.
- Atomic changes in the polymer structure result in predictable changes to the crystal lattice.
- Cryo-electron microscopy reveals atomic heterogeneity in real space; this is not possible using scattering techniques.
- The work proves that peptoid polymers adopt a universal, extended cis backbone geometry when they pack into a crystalline lattice.
- Paves the way to engineer sophisticated functions into soft materials by systematic control over atomic positions.