Mega macromolecules as single molecule lubricants for hard and soft surfaces
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CitationAnilkumar, Parambath. Lawson, Taylor B. Abbina, Srinivas. Mäkelä, Janne. Sabatelle, Robert. Takeuchi, Lily. Snyder, Brian. Grinstaff, Mark. Kizhakkedathu, Jayachandran. (2020). Mega macromolecules as single molecule lubricants for hard and soft surfaces. Nature communications, 11 (1) , 2139. 10.1038/s41467-020-15975-6.
A longstanding goal in science and engineering is to mimic the size, structure, and functionality present in biology with synthetic analogs. Today, synthetic globular polymers of several million molecular weight are unknown, and, yet, these structures are expected to exhibit unanticipated properties due to their size, compactness, and low inter-chain interactions. Here we report the gram-scale synthesis of dendritic polymers, mega hyperbranched polyglycerols (mega HPGs), in million daltons. The mega HPGs are highly water soluble, soft, nanometer-scale single polymer particles that exhibit low intrinsic viscosities. Further, the mega HPGs are lubricants acting as interposed single molecule ball bearings to reduce the coefficient of friction between both hard and soft natural surfaces in a size dependent manner. We attribute this result to their globular and single particle nature together with its exceptional hydration. Collectively, these results set the stage for new opportunities in the design, synthesis, and evaluation of mega polymers.