Arborescent Polymers

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Science  05 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5540, pp. 15
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5540.15d

Although most commodity synthetic polymers are composed of linear or randomly branched chains, other architectures are possible. These include “combs” (regularly spaced short branches along the backbone), “stars” (three or more chains extending from a central structure), and “dendrimers” (tree-like branching from a central atom).

Building on their work on stars and combs, Muchtar et al. have used a graft-on-graft technique to create tree-like polymer molecules that are similar to but less dense than their dendritic cousins. Starting with polystyrene (PS)-branched poly(chloroethyl vinyl ether) (PCEVE) as the core, successive layers of PCEVE and lithium-terminated PS were added to the molecule. Like dendrimers, the molecules take on spherical shapes, but for the largest polymer created, a cylindrical shape was obtained that the authors believe resulted from their control of the length of the initial PCEVE backbone. By enlarging the length of the first PS graft, they can make molecules that have a dense shell structure surrounding a vacant core.—MSL

Macromolecules 10.1021/ma010429q.

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