Aggregate Science: From Structures to Properties

Haoke Zhang, Zheng Zhao, Andrew T. Turley, Lin Wang, Paul R. McGonigal, Yujie Tu, Yuanyuan Li, Zhaoyu Wang, Ryan T.K. Kwok, Jacky W.Y. Lam, Ben Zhong Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Molecular science entails the study of structures and properties of materials at the level of single molecules or small interacting complexes of molecules. Moving beyond single molecules and well-defined complexes, aggregates (i.e., irregular clusters of many molecules) serve as a particularly useful form of materials that often display modified or wholly new properties compared to their molecular components. Some unique structures and phenomena such as polymorphic aggregates, aggregation-induced symmetry breaking, and cluster excitons are only identified in aggregates, as a few examples of their exotic features. Here, by virtue of the flourishing research on aggregation-induced emission, the concept of “aggregate science” is put forward to fill the gaps between molecules and aggregates. Structures and properties on the aggregate scale are also systematically summarized. The structure–property relationships established for aggregates are expected to contribute to new materials and technological development. Ultimately, aggregate science may become an interdisciplinary research field and serves as a general platform for academic research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2001457
Number of pages25
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number36
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is part of the Advanced Materials Hall of Fame article series, which recognizes the excellent contributions of leading researchers to the field of materials science. H.Z., Z.Z., and A.T.T. contributed equally to this work. The authors are grateful to financial support from the National Science Foundation of China (21788102), the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (16308016, C6009‐17G, and AHKUST 605/16), the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong (AoE/P‐03/08 and AoE/P‐02/12), the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC‐CNERC14SC01 and ITS/254/17), and the Science and Technology Plan of Shenzhen (JCYJ20160229205601482 and JCY20170818113602462). The authors also thank the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK (EPSRC) for a doctoral training grant awarded to A.T.T.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • aggregate science
  • aggregation-induced emission
  • structure–property relationship

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