Polymers that repeat in two dimensions, rather than being the more familiar, 1D chains, could have wide application in materials science. The carbon allotrope graphene is one such polymer, although its controlled functionalization is not necessarily possible. Rationally synthesized, ordered 2D polymers should be possible using organic chemistry, according to researchers led by Junji Sakamoto, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
The team has extended Staudinger’s polymerization concept — which forms macromolecules by covalently linking repeat units together — to allow them to crystallize a photoreactive monomer into a layered structure. This is then photopolymerized. Delamination by solvent leads to the separation of individual 2D polymer sheets which are just one molecule thick and that can exist as free-standing entities.
- A two-dimensional polymer prepared by organic synthesis,
P. Kissel, R. Erni, W. B. Schweizer, M. D. Rossell, B. T. King, T. Bauer, S. Götzinger, A. D. Schlüter, J. Sakamoto,
Nature Chem. 2012.