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A Self-Cross-Linking Supramolecular Polymer Network Enabled by Crown-Ether-Based Molecular Recognition

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-15, 22:29 authored by Lei Wang, Lin Cheng, Guangfeng Li, Kai Liu, Zhaoming Zhang, Peitong Li, Shengyi Dong, Wei Yu, Feihe Huang, Xuzhou Yan
Supramolecular polymers based on host–guest molecular recognition have emerged as promising platforms for the development of smart materials. However, the studies on them are primarily conducted in solution and/or in the gel state. In contrast, little is known about dynamic properties and applications of supramolecular polymers in bulk. Herein, we present a self-cross-linking supramolecular polymer network (SPN) as a model system to understand the bulk properties controlled by noncovalent interactions. Specifically, the SPN monomer is composed of two benzo-21-crown-7 (B21C7) host units and two dialkylammonium salt guest moieties on a four-arm core, wherein complementary host–guest complexation drives the formation of the SPN with [2]­pseudorotaxane linkages between B21C7 and ammonium motifs. The dynamic and reversible behaviors of the linkages are evaluated by measurement of viscoelasticity. The results indicate that the host–guest molecular recognition becomes highly dynamic at elevated temperature. Moreover, the relatively high activation energy of the SPN manifests itself as a new type of thermoplastic material with network topology freezing glass transition. Finally, we demonstrate how these findings provide insights into the malleability and processability of the SPN by simple demos. The fundamental understanding gained from the research on this SPN in bulk will facilitate the advancement and application of supramolecular materials.