Supramolecular polymers exhibit fascinating structures, and their properties, and thus applications, depend both on the strength and dynamics of the non-covalent bonds and on the functional properties of the monomeric building blocks. In this Review, we highlight the progress in methods developed to control supramolecular polymerization based on physicochemical insights into the thermodynamics and kinetics of non-covalent interactions. Prerequisites for polymer formation and stability, such as high binding strength (thermodynamics) between complementary receptor units, are briefly discussed, while the main focus is on the kinetic control of pathway selectivity, which in recent years has allowed seed-induced living supramolecular polymerization, chain growth-type supramolecular polymerization and the preparation of specific supramolecular polymer polymorphs and supramolecular block copolymers.
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The authors thank their current and previous co-workers for their contributions to this research field during the last two decades and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for continuous financial support. Furthermore, the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Culture, Science and Arts is acknowledged for the establishment of the KeyLab for Supramolecular Polymers of the Bavarian Polymer Institute at the Center for Nanosystems Chemistry in Würzburg. M.W. thanks the German Fonds der Chemischen Industrie for a PhD fellowship.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Wehner, M., Würthner, F. Supramolecular polymerization through kinetic pathway control and living chain growth. Nat Rev Chem 4, 38–53 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-019-0153-8
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