Decoding polymer chains via gated inclusion into flexible nanoporous crystals



Biplab Manna, Mizuki Asami, Nobuhiko Hosono, Takashi Uemura



Recognizing the microstructures of synthetic polymers remains a challenging task because there is currently no rational approach for accessing the microstructures of each polymer chain. Conversely, during protein biosynthesis, the microstructure of an RNA string is read with precision at the molecular level such that the nanospace within the ribosome serves as the workplace for highly specific molecular recognition. Herein, we report the microstructure recognition of polymers using nanopores of a flexible metal-organic framework (MOF) crystal, in which well-ordered coordination sites (open metal sites) developed in the MOF pores enable the identification of monomer species, composition, block segments, and local monomer sequence of vinyl polymers via coordination-driven impregnation. This allows for the selective adsorption of polymer chains with specific monomer structure, composition, and arrangements from a mixture of structural analogs, facilitating polymer separation and characterization for material chemistry, as well as information chemistry, by using synthetic polymers as data sources.