J. Am. Chem. Soc. 145 (17) 9700-9707 [2023-05-03; online 2023-04-19]
The physical properties of many modern multi-component materials are determined by their internal microstructure. Tools capable of characterizing complex nanoscale architectures in composite materials are, therefore, essential to design materials with targeted properties. Depending on the morphology and the composition, structures may be measured by laser diffraction, scattering methods, or by electron microscopy. However, it can be difficult to obtain contrast in materials where all the components are organic, which is typically the case for formulated pharmaceuticals, or multi-domain polymers. In nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, chemical shifts allow a clear distinction between organic components and can in principle provide the required chemical contrast. Here, we introduce a method to obtain radial images of the internal structure of multi-component particles from NMR measurements of the relay of nuclear hyperpolarization obtained from dynamic nuclear polarization. The method is demonstrated on two samples of hybrid core-shell particles composed of a core of polystyrene with a shell of mesostructured silica filled with the templating agent CTAB and is shown to yield accurate images of the core-shell structures with a nanometer resolution.