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Exploiting biocatalysis in the synthesis of supramolecular polymers

Roy, Sangita and Ulijn, Rein V. (2010) Exploiting biocatalysis in the synthesis of supramolecular polymers. In: Enzymatic polymerisation. Advances in Polymer Science . Springer-Verlag Berlin, Berlin, pp. 127-143. ISBN 9783642163753

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Abstract

This chapter details the exploitation of biocatalysis in generating supramolecular polymers. This approach provides highly dynamic supramolecular structures, inspired by biological polymeric systems found in the intra- and extracellular space. The molecular design of the self-assembling precursors is discussed in terms of enzyme recognition, molecular switching mechanisms and non-covalent interactions that drive the supramolecular polymerisation process, with an emphasis on aromatic peptide amphiphiles. We discuss a number of unique features of these systems, including spatiotemporal control of nucleation and growth of supramolecular polymers and the possibility of kinetically controlling mechanical properties. Fully reversible systems that operate under thermodynamic control allow for defect correction and selection of the most stable structures from mixtures of monomers. Finally, a number of potential applications of enzymatic supramolecular polymerisations are discussed in the context of biomedicine and nanotechnology.