The Nature of Fractility in Fat Crystal Networks
The process of creating a supramolecular structure does not simply entail finding a thermodynamic global free energy minimum. Kinetic factors play a key role in determining which local free energy minima are chosen along the formation pathway. Environmental effects become even more important (than molecular effects) beyond the microscopic world, where heat and mass transfer effects will strongly influence the formation of nanostructures, microstructures, and eventually a network (Fig. 1) [1,2]. In order to truly understand, and even-
tually predict, the macroscopic properties of materials, it is necessary to characterize and define the different levels of structure present in the material and their respective relationship to a macroscopic property. The macroscopic properties of many soft materials cannot always be directly related to molecular structure. Rather than routinely invoking ‘‘molecular interpretations’’ to explain the macroscopic properties of materials, relationships between the appropriate level of structure and macroscopic properties should be sought instead. Knowledge of the relationships between molecular composition and phase behavior, solid state structure, growth mode, static structure, and macroscopic properties will eventually allow for the rational design of specific macroscopic properties in manufactured materials.