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New approaches to insulated molecular wires derived from polyaniline


Recent research in Oxford has shown that conjugated polymers can be threaded through organic macrocycles, such as cyclodextrins, to form polyrotaxanes which behave as insulated molecular wires, resulting in enhanced fluorescence efficiency, electroluminescence efficiency and chemical stability.

We now aim to encapsulate polyaniline. Polyaniline can easily be doped by protonation, as well as by oxidation, increasing the conductivity by 10 orders of magnitude, almost to that of a conventional metal. It has emerging applications in rechargeable batteries, sensors, electromagnetic screening fabrics and electrochromic devices. It is known to bind beta-cyclodextrin to form polypseudorotaxanes, but these labile inclusion complexes have never been capped to generate robust rotaxanes.

The aim of this project is to synthesise a series of amino-terminated oligoanilines and to investigate their interaction with macrocycles such a beta-cyclodextrin and cucurbit[7]uril. We expect that pseudorotaxanes will be formed, and that it will be possible to cap the ends of the oligomers with bulky electrophiles to generate polyrotaxane-type insulated molecular wires.

The chemical, photophysical and optoelectronic characteristics of these insulated molecular wires will be investigated, to explore whether metallic conductivity is preserved in insulated polyaniline chains. Rienk Eelkema is currently completing his PhD thesis on Liquid Crystals as Amplifiers of Molecular Chirality in Groningen with Professor Ben Feringa. He has great expertise in the molecular-scale design of novel functional organic materials, together with a strong grasp of supramolecular chemistry and photochemistry, all of which will enable him to make an outstanding contribution to this project.

The fellowship will extend his experience of molecular-scale engineering and broaden his horizons. He has no experience of working with rotaxanes or organic semiconductors.

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