CHEMICAL SCIENCE

Polytelluroxane! Tsinghua University successfully prepared a new class of non-carbon backbone polymers


On June 26, 2023, Professor Xu Huaping’s research group of Tsinghua University published a research paper entitled “Polytelluoxane: A chalcogen polymer that bridges the gap between inorganic oxides and macromolecules” in the journal Chem.

This achievement reported a new class of non-carbon backbone polymers and named them polytelluroxane, and studied the single-molecule mechanical, optical and photocatalytic properties of the tellurium-oxygen non-carbon backbone structure. The application of polytelluroxane in the fields of ultraviolet protection, photocatalysis, and closed-loop degradable materials was explored. The corresponding author of the paper is Professor Xu Huaping; The first author is Dai Yiheng; The co-first author is Zhang Zhiheng.

In conventional polymers, carbon makes up the majority or all of the polymer backbone. However, there is a special class of polymers whose backbone is composed entirely of non-carbon elements and is called non-carbon backbone polymers. Some of them, such as polysiloxanes, have been widely developed in scientific research and industry.

In this work, the team of Professor Xu Huaping of Tsinghua University prepared polytellurium oxane by alternately linking tellurium atoms and oxygen atoms to form a backbone structure. The researchers fully verified this new backbone structure through multiple characterization methods, and studied the single-molecule mechanical behavior of the tellurium-oxygen backbone structure through single-molecule force spectroscopy based on atomic force microscopy, and found that this is a polymer structure with entropy elasticity similar to the silicon-oxygen backbone structure. Subsequently, the researchers developed a polymerization method for large-scale synthesis of polytelluroxane-interfacial oxidative polymerization, which can be carried out at room temperature, which has the significant advantages of simple reaction device, convenient post-reaction processing, high reaction repeatability, high atomic utilization, green reagent environmental protection, and can be stably applied to a variety of organic side chain structures of tellurium-containing small molecule monomers, which is expected to expand into an industrial synthesis method of polytelluroxane in the future.

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Figure 1: Synthesis and characterization of polytellurium.

On the basis of realizing the efficient synthesis of polytelluroxane, the researchers further developed the material molding process of polytelluran, and found that polytelluride showed good compatibility with hot press molding and solvent molding, and could be used to prepare polytelluride bulk materials and polytelluride film materials, respectively. In addition, researchers have carried out in-depth research on the properties of polytellurium, and related research focuses on exploring the unique physical and chemical properties of the tellurium-oxygen backbone structure. The results show that polytellurium oxane materials have good all-ultraviolet band protection performance – while ensuring high light transmittance in the visible-near-infrared band, they show significant protection ability for UVA bands with high penetration, and their light transmittance and refractive index can be comparable to common commercial optical materials, and are expected to develop into a new class of high transmittance ultraviolet protective functional materials in the future.

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Figure 2: Optical properties of polytellurium.

In-depth research found that polytelluroxane can show photostimulation responsiveness under ultraviolet irradiation – photoelectrons and photoholes on the polymer backbone structure, and the researchers have preliminarily explored the application of polytelluroxane in photocatalytic deposition of platinum and photocatalytic oxidation of alcoholkone, both of which show good catalytic efficiency.

Figure 3: Photocatalytic properties of polytellurium.

At the same time, the researchers discussed the redox stimulation responsiveness of polytelluroxane, found that polytelluride is an excellent closed-loop degradable material, and developed a corresponding closed-loop degradation operation process for polytelluroxane. Its closed-loop degradation process has significant advantages such as mild reaction conditions, tellurium atomic utilization rate close to 100%, high repeatability (chemical structure remains unchanged after 10 cycles), and fast degradation rate, which is expected to provide new material support for important fields such as microplastic pollution, sustainable economy and green chemistry.

Figure 4: Closed-loop degradability of polytellurium.

This research is expected to provide new ideas for the design, synthesis and application exploration of non-carbon backbone polymers. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (5223301214150422201156) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China Innovative Research Group Science Foundation (21821001). (Source: Science Network)

Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chempr.2023.05.042



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