Iterative Exponential Growth of Oxygen-Linked Aromatic Polymers Driven by Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Reactions

Tyler J. Jaynes, Mona Sharafi, Joseph P. Campbell, Jessica Bocanegra, Kyle T. McKay, Kassondra Little, Reilly Osadchey Brown, Danielle L. Gray, Toby J. Woods, Jianing Li, Severin T. Schneebeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work presents the first transition metal-free synthesis of oxygen-linked aromatic polymers by integrating iterative exponential polymer growth (IEG) with nucleophilic aromatic substitution (SNAr) reactions. Our approach applies methyl sulfones as the leaving groups, which eliminate the need for a transition metal catalyst, while also providing flexibility in functionality and configuration of the building blocks used. As indicated by 1) 1H-1H NOESY NMR spectroscopy, 2) single-crystal X-ray crystallography, and 3) density functional theory (DFT) calculations, the unimolecular polymers obtained are folded by nonclassical hydrogen bonds formed between the oxygens of the electron-rich aromatic rings and the positively polarized C–H bonds of the electron-poor pyrimidine functions. Our results not only introduce a transition metal-free synthetic methodology to access precision polymers but also demonstrate how interactions between relatively small, neutral aromatic units in the polymers can be utilized as new supramolecular interaction pairs to control the folding of precision macromolecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number620017
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
StatePublished - Apr 28 2021


  • SNAr reactions
  • iterative convergent/divergent polymer synthesis
  • iterative exponential polymer growth
  • nonclassical hydrogen bonding
  • nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • polymer folding
  • transition metal-free coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Iterative Exponential Growth of Oxygen-Linked Aromatic Polymers Driven by Nucleophilic Aromatic Substitution Reactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this