Emergent Self-Assembly Pathways to Multidimensional Hierarchical Assemblies using a Hetero-Seeding Approach

Yin Liu, Yanjun Gong, Yongxian Guo, Wei Xiong, Yifan Zhang*, Jincai Zhao, Yanke Che, Ian Manners

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The controlled formation of complex and functional 1-, 2-, and 3D hierarchical assemblies from molecular building blocks represents a key current challenge. Herein, we report the use of a seeded growth approach for a series of perylenediimide-based molecules (PDIs 1–4) to access otherwise inaccessible self-assembly pathways that yield complex hierarchical structures. The key to the new approach is to use hetero-seeds which possess a different composition and morphology from that of the molecular building block. For example, a nanotube seed (from PDI 3) and a microribbon seed (from PDI 4) were found to initiate different self-assembly pathways for PDI 1, which normally assembles to yield nanocoils. This led to the formation of unprecedented 3D scroll-like and scarf-like hierarchical nanostructures, respectively. Also, the hetero-seeds from PDI 3 initiate hidden self-assembly pathways of PDI 2 to generate 1D tubular heterojunctions. Significantly, this new strategy offers new opportunities to create emergent and functional hierarchical and complex structures from small molecule precursors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13484-13490
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number59
Early online date26 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019


  • hetero-seeding
  • hidden self-assembly pathways
  • hierarchical structures
  • perylenediimide-based molecules
  • self-assembly


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