Temporally programmed polymer – solvent interactions using a chemical reaction network

Benjamin Klemm, Reece W. Lewis, Irene Piergentili, Rienk Eelkema*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Out of equilibrium operation of chemical reaction networks (CRNs) enables artificial materials to autonomously respond to their environment by activation and deactivation of intermolecular interactions. Generally, their activation can be driven by various chemical conversions, yet their deactivation to non-interacting building blocks remains largely limited to hydrolysis and internal pH change. To achieve control over deactivation, we present a new, modular CRN that enables reversible formation of positive charges on a tertiary amine substrate, which are removed using nucleophilic signals that control the deactivation kinetics. The modular nature of the CRN enables incorporation in diverse polymer materials, leading to a temporally programmed transition from collapsed and hydrophobic to solvated, hydrophilic polymer chains by controlling polymer-solvent interactions. Depending on the layout of the CRN, we can create stimuli-responsive or autonomously responding materials. This concept will not only offer new opportunities in molecular cargo delivery but also pave the way for next-generation interactive materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6242
Number of pages12
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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