Research Articles

Synthesis of Two-Dimensional Polymers

Science  01 Jan 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5091, pp. 59-63
DOI: 10.1126/science.259.5091.59


A synthetic pathway is described to construct "in bulk" two-dimensional (2D) polymers shaped as molecular sheets. A chiral oligomeric precursor is used that contains two reactive sites, a polymerizable group at one terminus and a reactive stereogenic center near the middle of the molecule. The bulk reaction yields bilayer 2D polymers of molecular weight in the order of millions and a monodisperse thickness of 50.2 angstroms. The 2D molecular objects form through molecular recognition by the oligomers, which self-organize into layers that place the reactive groups within specific planes. The oligomers become catenated by two different stitching reactions involving the reactive sites. At room temperature, stacks of these molecular objects can organize as single crystals and at higher temperatures melt into smectic liquid crystals. Nonlinear optical experiments reveal that solid films containing the 2D polymers form structures that are thermally and temporally more stable than those containing analogous 1D polymers. This observation suggests that the transformation of common polymers from a 1D to a 2D architecture may produce generations of organic materials with improved properties.