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Mechanochemistry with Metallosupramolecular Polymers

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-07-23, 00:00 authored by Diederik W. R. Balkenende, Souleymane Coulibaly, Sandor Balog, Yoan C. Simon, Gina L. Fiore, Christoph Weder
The transduction of mechanical force into useful chemical reactions is an emerging design approach to impart soft materials with new functions. Here, we report that mechanochemical transductions can be achieved in metallosupramolecular polymers. We show that both reversible and irreversible reactions are possible and useful to create mechanically responsive materials that display new functions. The metallopolymer studied was a cross-linked network assembled from a europium salt and a telechelic poly­(ethylene-co-butylene) with 2,6-bis­(1′-methyl­benzimidazolyl)­pyridine (Mebip) ligands at the termini. The Eu3+ complexes serve both as mechanically responsive binding motifs and as built-in optical probes that can monitor the extent of (dis)­assembly due to their characteristic photoluminescent properties. Indeed, dose-dependent and reversible metal–ligand dissociation occurs upon exposure to ultrasound in solution. The absence of ultrasound-induced dissociation of a low-molecular weight model complex and in-depth studies of temperature effects confirm that the dissociation is indeed the result of mechanical activation. The influence of the strength of the metal–ligand interactions on the mechanically induced dissociation was also explored. Metallopolymers in which the Mebip ligands were substituted with more strongly coordinating dipicolinate (dpa) ligands do not dissociate upon exposure to ultrasound. Finally, we show that mechanochemical transduction in metallosupramolecular polymers is also possible in the solid state. We demonstrate mending of damaged objects through ultrasound as well as mechanochromic behavior based on metal-exchange reactions in metallopolymers imbibed with an auxiliary metal salt.