About a century ago, Dr. Herman Staudinger substantiated the existence of ultralong molecules and won the longterm debate against the colloidal theory to establish polymer science. Needless to say, polymer science has made tremendous contributions to the progress of human society, although it coincidentally brought about a critical environmental issue to tackle. In this lecture, I would like to present the significance and applications of supramolecular polymerization, a modernized version of the colloidal approach to polymeric materials. Supramolecular polymers attract attention not only because they are 100% recyclable but also they can be designed to be environmentally friendly, self-healable, responsive, and/or adaptive. In 1988, we reported the first prototype of supramolecular polymerization, featuring the formation of a 1D polymeric assembly using an amphiphilic porphyrin with water-soluble oligoether side chains as the monomer and have made fundamental contributions to this field. Representative examples include (1) nanotubular supramolecular polymerization, (2) chain-growth supramolecular polymerization, (3) supramolecular block copolymerization, (4) stereoselective supramolecular polymerization, and (5) thermally bisignate supramolecular polymerization.
These contributions are integral elements of conventional polymer science, filling in the critical gap between supramolecular and conventional polymerizations. Furthermore, we have expanded the basic concept of supramolecular polymerization into the noncovalent design of innovative soft materials. Successful examples include the developments of (i) bucky gels, (ii) aquamaterials, (iii) mechanically robust self-healable materials, (iv) supramolecular polymers of biomolecular machines, (v) ferroelectric columnar liquid crystals, and (vi) reorganizable and adaptive core-shell columnar liquid crystals. I will highlight some of these examples to show the significance of supramolecular polymerization for the realization of sustainable society.
Aida received his Doctor of Engineering (1984) degree in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Tokyo. After that he was immediately appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Synthetic Chemistry and in 1996 installed as a full professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Tokyo. Aida served as the director of the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute from 2008 to 2012. Since 2013 he has been a deputy director of the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS).
He is known for his work in the fields of supramolecular chemistry, materials chemistry and polymer chemistry and has made pioneering contributions to the initiation, fundamental progress, and conceptual expansion of supramolecular polymerization.