Polymer synthesis

Polymer synthesis, also called polymerization, is the process by which monomers (small molecules) are covalently bonded to form a (usually long) polymer chain or network.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    The contributions of chirality and conformation as contributing factors to the biological properties of synthetic nanomaterials remain underexplored. A synthesis of bottlebrush polymers with mirror-image side chains has now been developed and it has been revealed that an interplay between side-chain absolute configuration and flexibility influences the biological properties of these polymers both in vitro and in vivo.

    • Hung V.-T. Nguyen
    • , Yivan Jiang
    •  & Jeremiah A. Johnson
  • Research |

    Five-membered lactones are common in nature and are produced in large quantities from biomass, but a lack of ring strain means that ring-opening polymerization is usually thermodynamically unfavourable at ambient conditions. Now, an irreversible ring-opening polymerization of biomass-derived five-membered thionolactones—driven by S/O isomerization—has been developed, enabling their conversion into sustainable polymers at industrially relevant temperatures.

    • Pengjun Yuan
    • , Yangyang Sun
    •  & Miao Hong
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Topochemical polymerization reactions produce ultra-high molecular weight crystalline polymers. Here the authors show a family of para-azaquinodimethane compounds that undergo facile visible light and thermally initiated polymerization in the solid state and the crystal structure has been resolved via cryoelectron microscopy.

    • Christopher L. Anderson
    • , He Li
    •  & Yi Liu
  • Research |

    Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) was crosslinked via catalyst-free solid-state esterification at 120 °C with 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) at concentrations ranging from 1 to 10%. The thermal stability of PVA was improved significantly, especially at low FDCA concentrations of 1 and 5%, where degradation maximums occurred at 354 and 371 °C, respectively, compared to 267 °C for unmodified PVA. A twofold increase in tensile strength for the biodegradable PVA was achieved by crosslinking with 5% FDCA. A twofold increase in tensile strength for the biodegradable PVA was achieved by crosslinking with 5% FDCA.

    • Nam Vu Trung
    • , Ni Pham Thi
    •  & Thuy Tran Thi
  • Research |

    Degradable polymers are important for technological applications and sustainability, but they remain difficult to access via ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). Now, commercial 2,3-dihydrofuran is shown to be an effective ROMP comonomer for various norbornenes. This copolymerization generates new acid-degradable polymers with controlled molecular weights, different functionalities and tunable properties.

    • John D. Feist
    • , Daniel C. Lee
    •  & Yan Xia
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Increasing the rigidity of a macromolecule while maintaining solubility is challenging. Here, the authors demonstrate covalent connection of two rigid-rod polymer chains with stiff connectors, leading to rigid ladder structures with well-defined conjugated rails.

    • Stefanie A. Meißner
    • , Theresa Eder
    •  & Sigurd Höger

News and Comment

  • News & Views |

    Finding alternative fates for plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills requires innovative chemistry. Now, poly(acrylic acid) from diaper waste has been converted into valuable pressure-sensitive adhesives through an open-loop recycling method that is cost-effective and environmentally competitive.

    • Meredith A. Borden
    •  & Frank A. Leibfarth
    Nature Chemistry 13, 930-932
  • News & Views |

    The precisely ordered helical structures of biomacromolecules have long-inspired chemists to create synthetic helical polymers. Now, a new step-growth approach has enabled facile synthesis of helical polymers through the highly efficient sulfur(vi) fluoride exchange click chemistry.

    • Cangjie Yang
    •  & Jia Niu
    Nature Chemistry 13, 820-821
  • Research Highlights |

    The supramolecular assembly of oligomers encoded with complementary recognition units enables duplex hybridization with helical structure.

    • Colette Whitfield
  • News & Views |

    Recycling polymers to their monomers would enable a circular polymer economy, but this can be challenging, especially for materials with all-carbon backbones. Now, by lowering the strain of cyclooctene through ring fusion, recyclable polymers with useful physical properties can be made by an olefin-metathesis-based route.

    • Yutan Getzler
    Nature Chemistry 13, 719-721
  • Research Highlights |

    A diversity-oriented synthesis approach to prepare libraries of porous materials has enabled the identification of polymers with specific and tunable lithium-ion transport properties that may be applied in the production of more efficient batteries and fuel cells.

    • Stacey-Lynn Paiva