Self-assembly of supramolecular polymers into tunable helical structures



There is growing interest in the design of synthetic molecules that are able to self-assemble into a polymeric chain with compact helical conformations, which is analogous to the folded state of natural proteins. Herein, we highlight supramolecular approach to the formation of helical architectures and their conformational changes driven by external stimuli. Helical organization in synthetic self-assembling systems can be achieved by the various types of noncovalent interactions, which include hydrogen bonding, solvophobic effects, and metal-ligand interactions. Since the external environment can have a large influence on the strength and configuration of noncovalent interactions between the individual components, stimulus-induced alterations in the intramolecular noncovalent interactions can result in dynamic conformational change of the supramolecular helical structure thus, driving significant changes in the properties of the materials. Therefore, these supramolecular helices hold great promise as stimuli-responsive materials. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem 46: 1925–1935, 2008