Light-directed trapping of metastable intermediates in a self-assembly process

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author Sungnam Park
journal Nature Communications


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Self-assembly is a dynamic process that often takes place through a stepwise pathway involving formation of kinetically favored metastable intermediates prior to generation of a thermodynamically preferred supramolecular framework. Although trapping intermediates in these pathways can provide significant information about both their nature and the overall self-assembly process, it is a challenging venture without altering temperature, concentrations, chemical compositions and morphologies. Herein, we report a highly efficient and potentially general method for “trapping” metastable intermediates in self-assembly processes that is based on a photopolymerization strategy. By employing a chiral perylene-diimide possessing a diacetylene containing an alkyl chain, we demonstrated that the metastable intermediates, including nanoribbons, nanocoils and nanohelices, can be effectively trapped by using UV promoted polymerization before they form thermodynamic tubular structures. The strategy developed in this study should be applicable to naturally and synthetically abundant alkyl chain containing self-assembling systems.


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Jung Joon-Young (first author)


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