New Hydrogen Bonding Modules for Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry

Project Details


This project addresses the development of new tools to understand and employ molecular recognition units that loosely resemble DNA base-pairs. The recognition units to be developed are designed to pair with one another reversibly but with a strength that in apolar solvents is about 10% the strength of a carbon-carbon single bond. Both in their stability and fidelity of assembly they are superior to normal DNA base pairs. Easily scalable syntheses of derivatives of the units that can be 'clicked' onto other small molecules, polymers, surfaces, and other materials will be developed. These results will be extended toward stimuli responsive units where an external stimulus, such as light or heat, turns the recognition unit 'on' or 'off.' A system that assembles spontaneously into cyclic, hexameric aggregates will be used to develop stimuli responsive (solvent) self-assembling star polymers that can self-organize into larger superstructures. 'Clickable' recognition units will be exploited in a range of applications, including switchable, hydrogen-bonded multilayers.

With this award, the Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry Program is supporting the research of Dr. Steven C. Zimmerman, of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois. Professor Zimmerman and his students are developing synthetic systems designed to recognize one-another and assemble spontaneously into multi-molecular aggregates on the basis of recognition units mimicking those found in DNA. Through the study of such systems, Professor Zimmerman is developing biologically inspired ways to construct complex multifunctional materials that display 'smart' properties, including responsiveness to heat, light, and environment.

Effective start/end date15/08/0731/07/10


  • National Science Foundation


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