Transient polymers through carbodiimide-driven assembly

08 March 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Biochemical systems make use of out-of-equilibrium polymers generated under kinetic control. Inspired by these systems, many abiotic supramolecular polymers driven by chemical fuel reactions have been reported. Conversely, polymers based on transient covalent bonds have received little attention, even though they have the potential to complement supramolecular systems by generating transient structures based on stronger bonds and by offering a straightforward tuning of reaction kinetics. In this study, we show that simple aqueous dicarboxylic acids give poly(anhydrides) when treated with the carbodiimide EDC. Transient covalent polymers with molecular weights exceeding 15,000 are generated which then decompose over the course of days. Disassembly kinetics can be controlled using simple substituent effects in the monomer design. The impact of solvent polarity, carbodiimide concentration, and monomer concentration on polymer properties and lifetimes has been investigated. The results reveal substantial control over polymer assembly and disassembly kinetics, highlighting the potential for fine-tuned kinetic control in nonequilibrium polymerization systems.


systems chemistry
nonequilibrium assembly

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Experimental methods, analytical methods, supporting data, NMR spectra

Supplementary weblinks


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