Alkaloid-derived polymers and their carbene chemistry

Recently we have exploited theophylline, a compound found in chocolate and tea, for the production of a poly(ionic liquid) (PIL) for the first time. The ability to use a natural source for the cation helps to mitigate our reliance on petroleum products while adding the chemical diversity of alkaloids to these cationic polymeric materials. We found that the carbene-forming properties of these polymers also allow for the development of silver ion stabilized gels, where the silver ions act as crosslinkers via an N-heterocylic carbene (NHC). These NHC/Ag/PIL nanomaterial hybrids possess unique internal architectures with tunable physical properties. We found that the stability of these nanogels are related to the crosslink density within the material, where high crosslink densities promote the formation of silver nanoparticles surrounded by a halo of hybrid NHC/Ag/PIL material. These provocative and tunable architectures are envisioned as precursors for the incorporation of other metals and for the development of single-atom-in-a-colloids catalytic systems.

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