Polymer side-chains as arms for molecular recognition
South, Clinton Ray
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This thesis describes research based on synthetic protocols, methodologies, and applications of polymers containing side-chain molecular recognition elements. The use of molecular recognition, in lieu of covalent chemistry, potentially presents a path through the current limits of polymer science. The work described in this thesis is, at least in part, a testament to this proposal. The first two chapters presen a basic introduction of noncovalent interactions that are ubiquitous in the research of supramolecular polymers. Chapter 2 lays the foundation for the remaining chapters of this thesis by presenting several examples of prior work related specifically to the use of molecular recognition on the side-chains of polymers. The next two chapters present research focused on advancing the functionalization of polymers through molecular recognition. These chapters demonstrate that both architecturally controlled block copolymers and random terpolymers can accept a full load of different substrates without interference among distinct molecular recognition elements along the polymer backbone. Chapters 5 and 6 present a unique application of polymers containing molecular recognition elements, templated synthesis. Chapter 5 first discusses lessons learned from small molecule based templated synthesis in which a template and a substrate are held together by metal coordination and a subsequent bond forming reaction occurs. Chapter 6 discusses template polymerizations, in which a polymeric template was used, and a daughter monomer was polymerized while attached to the template. Another application of polymers containing molecular recognition elements is presented in Chapters 7 and 8. In these chapters, metal coordination is used to assemble polymer multilayer thin films that are both responsive to external stimuli, stable, and erasable. Finally, Chapter 9 summarizes the main conclusions of each chapter and presents a potential view of new projects that might result from the research presented in this thesis.