Optical monitoring of polymerizations in droplets with high temporal dynamic range

Andrew C. Cavell, Veronica K. Krasecki, Guoping Li, Abhishek Sharma, Hao Sun, Matthew P. Thompson, Christopher J. Forman, Si Yue Guo, Riley J. Hickman, Katherine A. Parrish, Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Leroy Cronin, Nathan C. Gianneschi, Randall H. Goldsmith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The ability to optically monitor a chemical reaction and generate an in situ readout is an important enabling technology, with applications ranging from the monitoring of reactions in flow, to the critical assessment step for combinatorial screening, to mechanistic studies on single reactant and catalyst molecules. Ideally, such a method would be applicable to many polymers and not require only a specific monomer for readout. It should also be applicable if the reactions are carried out in microdroplet chemical reactors, which offer a route to massive scalability in combinatorial searches. We describe a convenient optical method for monitoring polymerization reactions, fluorescence polarization anisotropy monitoring, and show that it can be applied in a robotically generated microdroplet. Further, we compare our method to an established optical reaction monitoring scheme, the use of Aggregation-Induced Emission (AIE) dyes, and find the two monitoring schemes offer sensitivity to different temporal regimes of the polymerization, meaning that the combination of the two provides an increased temporal dynamic range. Anisotropy is sensitive at early times, suggesting it will be useful for detecting new polymerization "hits" in searches for new reactivity, while the AIE dye responds at longer times, suggesting it will be useful for detecting reactions capable of reaching higher molecular weights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2647-2656
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 14 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Optical monitoring of polymerizations in droplets with high temporal dynamic range'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this