Nanoscale Polymerization Reactors for Polymer Fibers

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Science  24 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5436, pp. 2081-2082
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5436.2081

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The synthesis of high-performance polymers requires a high level of control over the product's morphology and hence its macroscopic properties. Kageyama et al. (page 2113) introduce a method that may make it easier to achieve such control over polymers made from simple starting materials. Nanoreactors within a mesoporous silica enable oriented growth of highly regular polyethylene fibers. This method is contrasted with traditional approaches, and a highly sophisticated construction kit is envisioned, in which the proper choice of monomers, catalysts, and nanoreactors will lead to a portfolio of new organic materials with precisely controlled properties.