Self-organization is a fundamental process for the construction of complex hierarchically ordered nanostructures, which are widespread in biological systems. However, precise control of size, shape, and surface properties is required for self-organization of nanoparticles. Here, we demonstrate a novel self-organization phenomenon mediated by flexible nanospaces in templates. Inorganic nanoparticles (e.g., silica, zirconia, and titania) are deposited in porous polymer thin films with randomly distributed pores on the surface, leaving a partially filled nanospace in each pore. Heating at temperatures beyond the glass transition temperature of the template leads to self-organization of the inorganic nanoparticles into one-dimensional chainlike networks. The self-organization is mediated by the deformation and fusion of the residual nanospaces, and it can be rationally controlled by sequential heat treatments. These results show that a nanospace, defined by the nonexistence of matter, interacts indirectly with matter and can be used as a component of self-organization systems.
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