Controlling Dynamic Behaviors in Biomimetic Materials: From Switching to Self-Assembly
Dynamic, stimuli responsive materials represent an ever growing area of research owing to their reprocessability and reconfigurability of important materials properties on demand. We will discuss two sets of chemically-distinct, biomimetic macromolecules with unique dynamic behaviors. Synthetic helical polymers mimic naturally occurring biopolymers such as proteins and DNA in their chiral, helical backbone secondary structures. Discussed herein, includes the transition-metal mediated polymerization of functional polycarbodiimide homopolymers and block copolymers. In particular, the dynamic, tunable chiroptical switching behavior observed in specific polycarbodiimides was exhaustively studied to unambiguously identify the mechanism of action in this unique process. Furthermore, this interesting property was utilized in applications such as non-specific VOC sensors and molecular motors. The synthesis and self-assembly of rod-coil block copolymers with chiral, helical polycarbodiimide segments is also described allowing for the formation of up to six different nanoscale assemblies simply by altering the solvent combinations.