Mechanically Interlocked Actuating Conjugated Polymers
This project involves the preparation of novel electromechanical polymers based on mechanically interlocked molecules. These synthetic muscle-like fibres would function via entirely new mechanisms of actuation and have potential applications in the medical, engineering and nanotechnology sectors. In general terms the overall project aim is to couple the latest catalytic mechanical bond-forming methodologies with recent advances in conjugated polymer synthesis to formulate a new generation high performance electromechanical materials. This multidisciplinary research programme integrates aspects of organic, supermolecular and physical chemistry together with materials science. The project objectives were achieved via a three phase research programme that combined realistic project milestones with focused training activities in materials processing and analysis. The research was carried out by a promising European scientist at MIT, USA under the supervision of Prof. Swager and at the University of Edinburgh, UK in the group of Prof. Leigh. The key results of the project are as follows: 1. The synthesis of a new redox switchable polymer that appears to kink and straighten in response to voltage 2. The preparation of a novel crosslinked conjugated polymer network that is held together by mechanical rather than covalent bonds and can be addressed using pH. 3. The development of a new general method for the incorporation of extremely strong hydrogen bond motifs into polymeric architectures The researcher's previous experience in organic/supramolecular chemistry and successful academic track record has been successfully applied during the initial phase of the project and complemented by intensive training in polymer preparation, processing, analysis and electromechanical device testing. The advanced training provided by the outgoing host was then effectively applied during the reintegration period through mentoring and collaborative activities. Overall this research programme has progressed the exploration of scientific advances at the interface between molecular devices and materials science and foster collaboration between world leading groups in the US and Europe. The project has also enabled the researcher to effectively bridge the gap between his current position as a skilled research scientist and a position of complete academic independence and professional maturity.