The adaptivity of natural systems is mostly controlled by shifting dynamic supramolecular equilibria or supramolecular recognition based on changes in the environmental conditions. In many adaptive processes, proteins, folded natural polymers, play a vital role to transfer the recognition of a change in environmental conditions into a macroscopic response event. Therefore, the combination of supramolecular chemistry, i.e. the use of non-covalent interactions to self-assemble molecules into larger structures, and polymer chemistry, i.e. covalent linkage of small building blocks to construct large macromolecules, is of utmost importance to develop novel synthetic adaptive materials, only achievable by joining these two disciplines.
The proposed research program on adaptive materials will focus on the following three topics:
- Hierarchical supramolecular materials
- Supramolecular self-healing materials
- Smart nanoparticles
Despite the different directions and aims of these three research directions, there will be a joint basis, namely the combination of defined polymer building blocks and site-specific polymer functionalization with supramolecular moieties. This mutual synthetic approach will facilitate strong interactions between the researchers, which are envisioned to stimulate creativity leading to innovative concepts.