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|Scheme: Activation of the “dormant sergeant” by an external stimulus|
This research, published in the prestigious Chemical Science, describes novel properties of chiral amplification. In these new copolymers with chiral and achiral units, the "sergeants and soldiers effect" is activated or deactivated at will by the presence of metal ions. They can also become encapsulating nanospheres with controlled size and chirality.
The prestigious journal Chemical Science has recently published a work by CIQUS researchers (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain), which it will help to understand the transmission of the structural information between the molecules of helical polymers.
Currently, it is known the "Sergeants and Soldiers effect" in helical copolymers is a chiral amplification phenomenon where a small amount of a chiral monomer in the copolymer is capable to induce a single helical structure.
This work presents a family of copolymers where the chiral amplification based on the "Sergeants and Soldiers effect" can be switched ON/OFF by the presence/absence of metal ions. But in these copolymers, the chiral component does not trigger the chiral amplification by itself — it does not act as a "Sergeant" — until a small amount of a metal ion is added. This allows the selective induction, through chiral amplification, of any of the two helical senses (M or P) on a single copolymer just by selecting the type of ion.
Remarkably, these copolymers also allows the aggregation and encapsulation properties reported for the homopolymers as a result of the cross-linking role played by the metal cations that does not affect the "Sergeants and Soldiers effect" here reported copolymers where the "Sergeants and Soldiers effect" can be switched ON and OFF by the presence of a metal ion. These copolymers have been prepared by a combination of achiral and chiral monomer units, where the chiral ones are unable to drive the chiral amplification unless a small amount of mono- or divalent metal ions is added.
This work, developed by Félix Freire, a member of the Research Group NanoBioMol group, led by Professors Ricardo Riguera and Emilio Quiñoá, belongs to a research line focused on the study of new sensors based on smart polymers that respond to external stimuli. They have already published previous results in prestigious chemistry scientific journals as Angewandte Chemie (2010 and 2011), Journal of the American Chemical Society (2012) and Chemical Science (2013).
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