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Synthesis of Macrocyclic Poly(3-hexylthiophene) and Poly(3-heptylselenophene) by Alkyne Homocoupling

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posted on 20.10.2016, 14:14 by George R. McKeown, Yuan Fang, Nimrat K. Obhi, Joseph G. Manion, Dmitrii F. Perepichka, Dwight S. Seferos
Here we report the synthesis of cyclic samples of poly­(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT, degrees of polymerization = 25, 40, and 75) and poly­(3-heptylselenophene) (P37S, DP = 30). Cyclization was accomplished using a mild alkyne–alkyne homocoupling procedure. Alkyne-terminated poly­(ethylene glycol) was then coupled to residual uncyclized polymers, which were subsequently removed by column chromatography, enabling isolation and characterization of pure cyclic polymers. Cyclization was confirmed by the disappearance of terminal alkyne protons, the decrease in hydrodynamic radius [measured by size exclusion chromatography (SEC)], and the observed identical molecular weight distribution [measured by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry]. The lower weight macrocyclic polymers have decreased self-assembly as measured by optical absorption and transmission electron microscopy. The highest weight macrocycles were imaged using scanning tunneling microscopy. Cyclic polymers adopted a tightly bent conformation, while their linear analogues assembled as fully extended chains. Our method of cyclization and purification is broadly applicable to conjugated polymers (CPs) and will enable the development of novel optoelectronic materials.