Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Research Briefing
  • Published:

Precision synthesis and closed-loop recycling of ultrahigh-molar-mass cyclic polymers

The precision synthesis of cyclic polymers with ultrahigh molar mass (UHMM) and circularity is challenging. Now, a method that involves superbase-mediated living linear-chain growth followed by macromolecular cyclization triggered by protic quenching enables the on-demand production of UHMM cyclic polymers with a narrow dispersity and closed-loop chemical recyclability.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Proton-triggered linear-to-cyclic topological transformation, characterization and circularity of the cyclic polymer.


  1. Haque, F. M. & Grayson, S. M. The synthesis, properties and potential applications of cyclic polymers. Nat. Chem. 12, 433–444 (2020). This authoritative review describes major developments in cyclic polymer synthesis, properties and applications, and assesses remaining challenges.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Hong, M. & Chen, E. Y.-X. Completely recyclable biopolymers with linear and cyclic topologies via ring-opening polymerization of γ-butyrolactone. Nat. Chem. 8, 42–49 (2016). This paper reports the formation of cyclic polymers through metal-catalysed coordinative-insertion ROP.

  3. Brown, H. A. & Waymouth, R. M. Zwitterionic ring-opening polymerization for the synthesis of high molecular weight cyclic polymers. Acc. Chem. Res. 46, 2585–2596 (2013). A perspective article that critically assesses the synthesis of cyclic polymers through organocatalysed zwitterionic ROP.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. McGraw, M. L. et al. Mechanism of spatial and temporal control in precision cyclic vinyl polymer synthesis by Lewis pair polymerization. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 61, e202116303 (2022). This paper reports the spatiotemporal control achieved in the synthesis of precision cyclic vinyl polymers by Lewis pair polymerization.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Zhou, L. et al. Chemically circular, mechanically tough and melt-processable polyhydroxyalkanoates. Science 380, 64–69 (2023). This paper demonstrates gem-dimethyl substituted polymers with enhanced thermal stability, chemical recyclability and performance properties.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. McGraw, M. L., Clarke, R. W. & Chen, E. Y.-X. Synchronous control of chain length/sequence/topology for precision synthesis of cyclic block copolymers from monomer mixtures. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 143, 3318–3322 (2021). This paper reports precision cyclic block copolymer synthesis from monomer mixtures through simultaneous control of monomer sequence and polymer topology.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This is a summary of: Zhou, L. et al. Proton-triggered topological transformation in superbase-mediated selective polymerization enables access to ultrahigh-molar-mass cyclic polymers. Nat. Chem. (2024).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Precision synthesis and closed-loop recycling of ultrahigh-molar-mass cyclic polymers. Nat. Chem. (2024).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing