Structural water as an essential comonomer in supramolecular polymerization

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Science Advances  15 Nov 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 11, eaao0900
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao0900

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Although the concept of structural water that is bound inside hydrophobic pockets and helps to stabilize protein structures is well established, water has rarely found a similar role in supramolecular polymers. Water is often used as a solvent for supramolecular polymerization, however without taking the role of a comonomer for the supramolecular polymer structure. We report a low–molecular weight monomer whose supramolecular polymerization is triggered by the incorporation of water. The presence of water molecules as comonomers is essential to the polymerization process. The supramolecular polymeric material exhibits strong adhesion to surfaces, such as glass and paper. It can be used as a water-activated glue, which can be released at higher temperatures and reused many times without losing its performance.

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