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Macromolecular metamorphosis via stimulus-induced transformations of polymer architecture
journal contributionposted on 2017-02-20, 00:00 authored by Hao Sun, Christopher P Kabb, Yuqiong Dai, Megan R Hill, Ion Ghiviriga, Abhijeet Bapat, Brent S Sumerlin
Macromolecular architecture plays a pivotal role in determining the properties of polymers. When designing polymers for specific applications, it is not only the size of a macromolecule that must be considered, but also its shape. In most cases, the topology of a polymer is a static feature that is inalterable once synthesized. Using reversible-covalent chemistry to prompt the disconnection of chemical bonds and the formation of new linkages in situ, we report polymers that undergo dramatic topological transformations via a process we term macromolecular metamorphosis. Utilizing this technique, a linear amphiphilic block copolymer or hyperbranched polymer undergoes ‘metamorphosis’ into comb, star and hydrophobic block copolymer architectures. This approach was extended to include a macroscopic gel which transitioned from a densely and covalently crosslinked network to one with larger distances between the covalent crosslinks when heated. These architectural transformations present an entirely new approach to ‘smart’ materials.