Chemoresponsive Shape-Memory Effect of Rhodium–Phosphine Coordination Polymer Networks


Chemoresponsive polymers are of technological significance for smart sensors or systems capable of molecular recognition. An important key requirement for these applications is the material’s structural integrity after stimulation. We explored whether covalently cross-linked metal ion–phosphine coordination polymers (MPN) can be shaped into any temporary shape and are capable of recovering from this upon chemoresponsive exposure to triphenylphosphine (Ph3P) ligands, whereas the MPN provide structural integrity. Depending on the metal-ion concentration used during synthesis of the MPN, the degree of swelling of the coordination polymer networks could be adjusted. Once the MPN was immersed into Ph3P solution, the reversible ligand-exchange reaction between the metal ions and the free Ph3P in solution causes a decrease of the coordination cross-link density in MPN again. The Ph3P-treated MPN was able to maintain its original shape, indicating a certain stability of shape even after stimulation. In this way, chemoresponsive control of the elastic properties (increase in volume and decrease of mechanical strength) of the MPN was demonstrated. This remarkable behavior motivated us to explore whether the MPN are capable of a chemoresponsive shape-memory effect. In initial experiments, shape fixity of around 60% and shape recovery of almost 90% were achieved when the MPN was exposed to Ph3P in case of rhodium. Potential applications for chemoresponsive shape-memory systems could be shapable semiconductors, e.g., for lighting or catalysts, which provide catalytic activity on demand.
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