A new paper by Min-Hao Zhang entitled A Supramolecular Polymer Formed by Small Molecules was published by Cell Reports Physical Science!
Supramolecular polymers are intriguing due to their thermal reversible and stimuli-responsive properties. However, most supramolecular polymers reported so far have poor mechanical properties due to the low bonding energy of the non-covalent interactions. Here we report a supramolecular polymer which is formed by small molecule, ethylene glycol-bis(2-aminoethylether)-N,N,N’,N’-tetrapropionic acid (EGTPA). Owning to the dense hydrogen bonding and low crystallinity, this material exhibits polymer-like properties, i.e., high mechanical strength and excellent plasticity. Thermal and environmental control over the dynamics of hydrogen bonding leads to many intriguing properties, such as thermal healing and tunable mechanical strength, in a way not accessible to traditional polymers. Based on these features, we further demonstrate its application in shape-memory hybrids. Significant shape memory effect is observed although both the components of the hybrids do not show shape memory effect as an individual.