Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The idea of using chain reactions to create polymers in the test tube is almost a century old (I'm guessing!), so it's intriguing that until recently nobody thought of turning the idea around and producing lots of monomers by a chain reaction deconstructing a polymer. This approach has been pioneered by Doron Shabat at Tel Aviv, and recent progress is discussed in a highlight in Angewandte Chemie. Apparently there are lots of ideas for applications from drug transporters through to sensor signal amplification. One has to be careful though to make sure that the polymer doesn't self-destruct before it is told to do so. Falsely triggered reactions will probably be a worry if this ever reaches real-world applications.