Precise Non-Equilibrium Polypropylene Glycol Polyrotaxanes

James S.W. Seale, Bo Song*, Yunyan Qiu, J. Fraser Stoddart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Traditionally, the synthesis of polyrotaxanes has been limited by synthetic methods that rely on an innate affinity between the rings and the polymer chains. The use of rotaxane-forming molecular pumps allows this limitation to be circumvented in the production of non-equilibrium polyrotaxanes in which rings are trapped on polymer chains for which they have little or no affinity. Pumping cassettes, each composed of a bipyridinium unit linked (i) by a bismethylene bridge to a terminal 2,6-dimethylpyridinium cationic unit and (ii) by a methylene group to an isopropylphenylene steric barrier, were attached using copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloadditions to the ends of a polypropylene glycol (PPG) chain of number-average molecular weight Mn ≈ 2200. Using a one-pot electrosynthetic protocol, a series of PPG-based polyrotaxanes with cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) as the rings were synthesized. Despite the steric bulk of the PPG backbone, it was found to be a suitable collecting chain for threading up to 10 rings. The pumping of two rings is sufficient to render these hydrophobic polymers soluble in aqueous solution. Their hydrodynamic diameters and diffusion constants vary according to the number of pumped rings. The non-equilibrium nature of these polyrotaxanes is manifested in their gradual degradation and dethreading at elevated temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16898-16904
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 21 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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