A disk-shaped molecule, N-(5-sorbyl-pentyl)-N',N''-di(n-octyl)benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide (1), has been synthesized and assembled into a columnar stack in cyclohexane. Using a photoinitiated process, we polymerized monomer 1 in its self-assembled state and analyzed the resulting poly-1. On cooling a boiling cyclohexane solution of 1, the molecules aggregate via amide hydrogen bonds, as supported by the position of the N-H stretching band in FT-IR spectroscopy. Evidence of helical columnar stacking of 1 in the aggregate is provided by an induced CD effect upon blending 1 with a chiral side-chain homologue 3 in a so-called "sergeants and soldiers" experiment. The columnar assembly in cyclohexane was polymerized by UV light (365 nm) irradiation in the presence of 2,2-dimethoxy-2-phenylacetophenone as radical photoinitiator. The polymerization occurs selectively to give 1,4-polymer with isolated trans C=C bonds, as shown by FT-IR, and 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. Lack of polymerization of methyl sorbate (4) under identical conditions, and low incorporation of 4 in copolymerizations with 1 in cyclohexane, suggests that the polymerization preferentially occurs within the columnar assembly. Size exclusion chromatography shows that the degree of polymerization (Xn) based on number average molecular weight is approximately 65. Incorporation of small amounts of nonpolymerizable derivatives 2 and 3 into the columns has no effect on Xn and conversion. Molecular models show that the polymerizable sidearm of 1 is long enough to span the distance between the monomers in the chiral stack. Under the atomic force microscope (AFM), purified samples of polymerized 1 displayed nanometer-sized fibrous morphologies with a high-axial-ratio (>150), uniform width (60 nm), and a thickness (1.0 nm) which corresponds to the width of the benzene tricarboxamide core of 1, whereas aggregates of nonpolymerized 1 yield a featureless image due to their instability.
Masuda, M., Jonkheijm, P., Sijbesma, R. P., & Meijer, E. W. (2003). Photoinitiated polymerization of columnar stacks of self-assembled trialkyl-1,3,5-benzenetricarboxamide derivatives. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 125(51), 15935-15940. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja037927u