Despite recent advances in mechanistic understanding and controlled-synthesis methodologies regarding synthetic supramolecular assemblies, it has remained challenging to capture the molecular-level phenomena in real time, thus hindering further progress in this research field. In this study, we applied high-speed atomic-force microscopy (AFM), which has extraordinary spatiotemporal resolution (1 nm and sub-100 ms), to capture dynamic events occurring during synthetic molecular self-assembly. High-speed AFM permitted the visualization of unique dynamic behavior, such as seeded growth and self-repair in real time. Furthermore, scanning-probe AFM permitted the site-specific manipulation and functionalization of a molecular self-assembly. This powerful combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches at the molecular level should enable targeted syntheses of unprecedented functional nanoarchitectures.
- high-speed atomic force microscopy
- pathway complexity
- supramolecular polymers