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Research Highlight: Stoddart

Tiny pump builds polyrotaxanes with precision

Northwestern University researchers have developed the most precise way to build polyrotaxanes, a mechanically locked polymer for slide-ring gels, battery electrode materials and drug-delivery platforms. 

A necklace-like molecule made with rings threaded onto a polymer string, polyrotaxanes are notoriously difficult to construct. A new method from the laboratory of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Sir Fraser Stoddart uses two artificial molecular pumps to install rings onto each end of a polymer string. The tiny pumps allow researchers to control precisely how many rings pass onto the polymer. “These polyrotaxanes have never before been made with such precision,” Stoddart said. “Without the ability to define accurately the polymer’s structure, you cannot fine-tune the material’s overall properties.”

The paper was published (June 12) in the journal Science.

For more on the story read Northwestern Now

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