Nucleobase-templated polymerization: copying the chain length and polydispersity of living polymers into conjugated polymers

J Am Chem Soc. 2009 Apr 1;131(12):4182-3. doi: 10.1021/ja809613n.


Conjugated polymers synthesized by step polymerization mechanisms typically suffer from poor molecular weight control and broad molecular weight distributions. We report a new method which uses nucleobase recognition to read out and efficiently copy the controlled chain length and narrow molecular weight distribution of a polymer template generated by living polymerization, into a daughter conjugated polymer. Aligning nucleobase-containing monomers on their complementary parent template using hydrogen-bonding interactions, and subsequently carrying out a Sonogashira polymerization, leads to the templated synthesis of a conjugated polymer. Remarkably, this daughter strand is found to possess a narrow molecular weight distribution and a chain length nearly equivalent to that of the parent template. On the other hand, nontemplated polymerization or polymerization with the incorrect template generates a short conjugated oligomer with a significantly broader molecular weight distribution. Hence, nucleobase-templated polymerization is a useful tool in polymer synthesis, in this case allowing the use of a large number of polymers generated by living methods, such as anionic polymerization, controlled radical polymerizations (NMP, ATRP, and RAFT) and other mechanisms to program the structure, length, and molecular weight distribution of polymers normally generated by step polymerization methods and significantly enhance their properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamides / chemistry*
  • Adenine / chemistry
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemical synthesis
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemical synthesis
  • Biomimetic Materials / chemistry
  • DNA / chemistry
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemical synthesis
  • Materials Testing
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Structure
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis
  • Polymers / chemistry*


  • Acrylamides
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Polymers
  • DNA
  • Adenine