Synthesis of Macrocyclic Copolymer Brushes and Their Self-Assembly into Supramolecular Tubes

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Science  14 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5869, pp. 1512-1515
DOI: 10.1126/science.1153848

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We report on an efficient route to design large macrocyclic polymers of controlled molar mass and narrow dispersity. The strategy is based on the synthesis of a triblock copolymer ABC, in which the long central block B is extended by two short A and C sequences bearing reactive antagonist functions. When reacted under highly dilute conditions, this precursor produces the corresponding macrocycle by intramolecular coupling of the A and C blocks. Chloroethyl vinyl ether was selected as the monomer for the central block B, because it can be readily derivatized into brushlike polymers by a grafting process. The corresponding macrocyclic brushes were decorated with polystyrene or randomly distributed polystyrene and polyisoprene branches. In a selective solvent for the polyisoprene branches, the macrocyclic brushes self-assemble into cylindrical tubes of up to 700 nanometers.

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