Sequence-controlled polymerizations play a key role in Nature. Although formed from a rather modest library of monomers, sequence-defined macromolecules such as proteins or nucleic acids are largely responsible for the complexity and diversity of the biological world. By analogy, one may predict that synthetic sequence-defined polymers could play an important role in modern applied materials science. Paradoxically, very little effort has been spent within the last decades for developing sequence-specific polymerization methods.
In this scientific context, the target of the present proposal is to develop new approaches for controlling macromolecular sequences. In particular, new possibilities for controlling comonomer sequences in standard synthetic processes such as chain-growth polymerizations (e.g. controlled radical polymerization) and step-growth polymerizations will be investigated. The strategies for controlling sequences will be principally chemical (e.g. controlled monomer insertion, organocatalysis, sequential monomer additions) but physical (e.g. confinement, transient monomer complexation) and eventually biochemical (e.g. biocatalysis) routes will be also considered.
The essence of this project is indeed highly fundamental. Indeed, the control over polymer sequences remains one of the last holy grails in polymer science. Nevertheless, on a longer term, this research may be also extremely relevant for applications. Indeed, sequence-controlled polymers are most likely the key towards new generations of functional sub-nanometric materials.
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