The efficient preparation of single-crystalline ionic polymers and fundamental understanding of their structure-property relationships at the molecular level remains a challenge in chemistry and materials science. Here, we describe the single-crystal structure of a highly ordered polycationic polymer (polyelectrolyte) and its proton conductivity. The polyelectrolyte single crystals can be prepared on a gram-scale in quantitative yield, by taking advantage of an ultraviolet/sunlight-induced topochemical polymerization, from a tricationic monomer- A self-complementary building block possessing a preorganized conformation. A single-crystal-to-single-crystal photopolymerization was revealed unambiguously by in situ single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis, which was also employed to follow the progression of molecular structure from the monomer, to a partially polymerized intermediate, and, finally, to the polymer itself. Collinear polymer chains are held together tightly by multiple Coulombic interactions involving counterions to form two-dimensional lamellar sheets (1 nm in height) with sub-nanometer pores (5 Å). The polymer is extremely stable under 254 nm light irradiation and high temperature (above 500 K). The extraordinary mechanical strength and environmental stability-in combination with its impressive proton conductivity (âˆ3 × 10-4 S cm-1)-endow the polymer with potential applications as a robust proton-conducting material. By marrying supramolecular chemistry with macromolecular science, the outcome represents a major step toward the controlled synthesis of single-crystalline polyelectrolyte materials with perfect tacticity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry