Solvent-free autocatalytic supramolecular polymerization


Zhen Chen, Yukinaga Suzuki, Ayumi Imayoshi, Xiaofan Ji, Kotagiri Venkata Rao, Yuki Omata, Daigo Miyajima, Emiko Sato, Atsuko Nihonyanagi, and Takuzo Aida


Solvent-free chemical manufacturing is one of the awaited technologies for addressing an emergent issue of environmental pollution. Here, we report solvent-free autocatalytic supramolecular polymerization (SF-ASP), which provides an inhibition-free template-assisted catalytic organic transformation that takes great advantage of the fact that the product (template) undergoes a termination-free nucleation–elongation assembly (living supramolecular polymerization) under solvent-free conditions. SF-ASP allows for reductive cyclotetramerization of hydrogen-bonding phthalonitriles into the corresponding phthalocyanines in exceptionally high yields (>80%). SF-ASP requires the growing polymer to form hexagonally packed crystalline fibres, which possibly preorganize the phthalonitriles at their cross-sectional edges for their efficient transformation. With metal oleates, SF-ASP produces single-crystalline fibres of metallophthalocyanines again in exceptionally high yields, which grow in both directions without terminal coupling until the phthalonitrile precursors are completely consumed. By taking advantage of this living nature of polymerization, multistep SF-ASP without/with metal oleates allows for the precision synthesis of multi-block supramolecular copolymers.


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