About this Research Topic
Supramolecular polymers are a versatile class of macromolecules, formed by iterative association of either small molecules, oligomers, or polymers, through dynamic non-covalent interactions. Research focus on supramolecular polymers has progressed from incrementally improving polymer properties through weak intermolecular interactions to designing strong intermolecular interactions, aiming to create assemblies of small molecules with material properties that rival conventional polymers. The dynamic nature of the non-covalent bond confers other desirable features such as reprocessability and self-healing, making supramolecular polymers synthetic targets for a range of electronic, material, and biomedical applications. Fundamental studies of supramolecular polymers have focused on structural and electronic factors governing the strength of non-covalent interactions, as well as mechanistic characterization of their self-assembly. The relatively weak nature of supramolecular interactions means that most supramolecular polymers exist at thermodynamic equilibrium (although kinetic trapping and metastability have been observed), leading to new examples of living, seeded, and chain-growth supramolecular polymers.
The field of supramolecular polymer chemistry seeks to apply the reversible and dynamic nature of non-covalent bonds to the numerous applications of conventional polymers and materials in order to improve their properties and function. Through the 20+ years since the first examples of supramolecular polymers, two primary research foci have pervaded the field: design and fundamental study of new monomer structures, and translation of monomer structures to functional supramolecular polymers. These two foci are coupled through a constant feedback loop that necessitates the further development of the field toward eventual applications. Designing functional supramolecular materials draws on known supramolecular polymerization mechanisms, thermodynamics, and kinetics to impart desired molecular behavior, while inspiring new approaches to control and study the underlying structural factors. Similarly, fundamental studies of supramolecular polymers can lead to previously unrecognized properties and functions.
As such, the goal of this Research Topic is to solicit manuscripts that will contribute to the feedback loop between supramolecular polymer structure and function. Contributions, in the form of Original Research as well as Review articles, will involve any aspects of supramolecular polymer science along the structure-function continuum. Both experimental and theoretical efforts are welcomed, and molecular components can be wholly synthetic or biologically derived. Specific examples of research areas include, but are not limited to:
• Novel monomer structures for supramolecular polymer architectures
• Studies of supramolecular polymer structure/topology from known or novel building blocks
• Advances in experimental or theoretical characterization of supramolecular polymer systems
• Insight into supramolecular polymer assembly mechanism
• Applications of supramolecular polymer systems (broadly defined)
Keywords: self-assembly, supramolecular, structure, non-covalent, materials, polymer
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.