Synthesis of Metallopolymers and Direct Visualization of the Single Polymer Chain

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During the past few decades, the study of the single polymer chain has attracted considerable attention with the goal of exploring the structure–property relationship of polymers. It still, however, remains challenging due to the variability and low atomic resolution of the amorphous single polymer chain. Here, we demonstrated a new strategy to visualize the single metallopolymer chain with a hexameric or trimeric supramolecule as a repeat unit, in which Ru(II) with strong coordination and Fe(II) with weak coordination were combined together in a stepwise manner. With the help of ultrahigh-vacuum, low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (UHV-LT-STM) and scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS), we were able to directly visualize both Ru(II) and Fe(II), which act as staining reagents on the repeat units, thus providing detailed structural information for the single polymer chain. As such, the direct visualization of the single random polymer chain is realized to enhance the characterization of polymers at the single-molecule level.

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Journal of the American Chemical Society, v. 142, issue 13, p. 6196-6205