Covalent and Noncovalent Approaches to Rigid Coplanar -Conjugated Molecules and Macromolecules. Academic Article uri icon


  • Molecular conformation and rigidity are essential factors in determining the properties of individual molecules, the associated supramolecular assemblies, and bulk materials. This correlation is particularly important for -conjugated molecular and macromolecular systems. Within such anindividual molecule, a coplanar conformation facilitates the delocalization of not only molecular orbitals but also charges, excitons, and spins, leading to synergistically ensembled properties of the entire conjugated system. A rigid backbone, meanwhile, imposes a high energy cost to disrupt such a favorable conformation, ensuring the robustness and persistence of coplanarity. From a supramolecular and material point of view, coplanarity and rigidity often promote strong intermolecular electronic coupling and reduce the energy barrier for the intermolecular transport of charges, excitons, and phonons, affording advanced materials properties in bulk. In this context, pursuing a rigid and coplanar molecular conformation often represents one of the primary objectives when designing and synthesizing conjugated molecules for electronic and optical applications. Two general bottom-up strategies-covalent annulation and noncovalent conformational control-are often employed to construct rigid coplanar systems. These strategies have afforded various classes of such molecules and macromolecules, including so-called conjugated ladder polymers, graphene nanoribbons, polyacenes, and conformationally locked organic semiconductors. While pursuing these targets, however, one often confronts challenges associated with precise synthesis and limited solubility of the rigid coplanar systems, which could further impede their large-scale preparation, characterization, processing, and application. To address these issues, we developed and utilized a number of synthetic methods and molecular engineering approaches to construct and to process rigid coplanar conjugated molecules and macromolecules. Structure-property correlations of this unique class of organic materials were established, providing important chemical principles for molecular design and materials applications. In this Account, we first describe our efforts to synthesize rigid coplanar systems fused by various types of bonds, including kinetically formed covalent bonds, thermodynamically formed covalent bonds, NB coordinate bonds, and hydrogen bonds, in order of increasing dynamic character. The subsequent section discusses the characteristic properties of selected examples of these rigid coplanar systems in comparison with control compounds that are not rigid and coplanar, particularly focusing on the optical, electronic, and electrochemical properties. For systems bridged with noncovalent interactions, active manipulation of the dynamic bonds can tune variable properties at the molecular or collective level. Intermolecular interactions, solid-state packing, and processing of several cases are then discussed to lay the foundation for future materials applications of rigid coplanar conjugated compounds.

published proceedings

  • Acc Chem Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, C., Kalin, A. J., & Fang, L.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM