Junior Research Group - Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry

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Research

 

Nature has given rise to a tremendous variety of highly complex functional systems. This complexity is largely made possible by the thorough control nature exerts over the structure of biopolymers: the control over monomer sequence and connectivity is key to the controlled, hierarchical folding and interactions of these macromolecules.
The kind of control nature achieves is far beyond the scope of what scientists can currently achieve using typical polymerization techniques. In any type of addition polymerization only very limited control can be exerted over the monomer sequence for example. At the moment alternating, or, in exceptional cases, simple periodic copolymerizations ((ABA)n-sequences) are the most complex structures that can be obtained in a well-defined manner. As nature shows so elegantly, a higher degree of control over the microstructure of polymers can be a very versatile way of creating myriad functional systems from a small number of functional monomers. Such a control would be highly advantageous for the creation of functional synthetic systems.
Our goal is to establish synthetic methods by which highly complex monomer sequences can be incorporated into synthetic polymers in a well-defined fashion. These methods will rely on supramolecular interactions such as hydrogen-bonding and metal-ligand complexation in conjunction with differences in reactivity of different types of monomers.
The biomimetic polymers that are created will be used to investigate the potential of synthetic polymers with complex monomer sequences for a variety of applications, ranging from catalysis and the specific binding to surfaces to the material properties and folding behavior.