Modular Molecular Nanoplastics

Angelica Niazov-Elkan, Xiaomeng Sui, Ifat Kaplan-Ashiri, Linda J.W. Shimon, Gregory Leitus, Erez Cohen, Haim Weissman, H. Daniel Wagner, Boris Rybtchinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In view of their facile fabrication and recycling, functional materials that are built from small molecules ("molecular plastics") may represent a cost-efficient and sustainable alternative to conventional covalent materials. We show how molecular plastics can be made robust and how their (nano)structure can be tuned via modular construction. For this purpose, we employed binary composites of organic nanocrystals based on a perylene diimide derivative, with graphene oxide (GO), bentonite nanoclay (NC), or hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC), that both reinforce and enable tailoring the properties of the membranes. The hybrids are prepared via a simple aqueous deposition method, exhibit enhanced mechanical robustness, and can be recycled. We utilized these properties to create separation membranes with tunable porosity that are easy to fabricate and recycle. Hybrids 1/HEC and 1/NC are capable of ultrafiltration, and 1/NC removes heavy metals from water with high efficiency. Hybrid 1/GO shows mechanical properties akin to covalent materials with just 2-10% (by weight) of GO. This hybrid was used as a membrane for immobilizing β-galactosidase that demonstrated long and stable biocatalytic activity. Our findings demonstrate the utility of modular molecular nanoplastics as robust and sustainable materials that enable efficient tuning of structure and function and are based on self-assembly of readily available inexpensive components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11097-11106
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2019


  • biocatalysis
  • membranes
  • nanofiltration
  • self-assembly
  • supramolecular materials
  • ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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