Polymorphism and Optoelectronic Properties in Crystalline Supramolecular Polymers

Niklas Grabicki, Oliver Dumele, Hiroaki Sai, Natalia E. Powers-Riggs, Brian T. Phelan, M. Hussain Sangji, Craig T. Chapman, James V. Passarelli, Adam J. Dannenhoffer, Michael R. Wasielewski, Samuel I. Stupp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Supramolecular polymers can emulate some of the physical properties of covalent polymers but offer new opportunities given the possibility of designing monomers that will form highly ordered assemblies with defined shapes. Internally ordered supramolecular polymers formed through nucleation-elongation self-assembly are well-known but highly crystalline examples which exhibit important properties such as light harvesting, charge transport, and ferroelectricity are not common. We report here on a detailed study of supramolecular polymers formed in water by carboxylated naphtho-p-quinodimethane amphiphiles. We found that supramolecular polymerization of these amphiphiles in aqueous media yields crystalline assemblies with morphologies that included ribbons, helically rolled ribbons, and twisted filaments. This polymorphism was found to be controlled exclusively by repulsive electrostatic interactions controlled by the degree of protonation of the carboxylic head groups which also dictates the nature of supramolecular packing. Substoichiometric amounts of base lead to highly crystalline ribbons due to a decreased surface charge density and less electrostatic repulsion. Increasing deprotonation results in helically rolled ribbons with a different polymorph crystal lattice, whereas excessive deprotonation leads to twisted filaments with maximum surface charge density. Ribbons, helical rolled ribbons, and twisted filaments revealed an increasing red shift in their visible absorption maxima. These crystalline assemblies could be potential candidates for solar energy materials and photocatalytic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-718
Number of pages13
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 26 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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