Catalytically active N-heterocyclic carbene release from single-chain nanoparticles following a thermolysis-driven Unfolding Strategy

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Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Bordeaux
  • Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (LCPO CNRS)
  • Warwick University


The need for efficient, tailor‐made catalysts has inspired chemists to design synthetic macromolecular architectures for selective catalysis. To this purpose, herein the synthesis and in‐depth characterization of Ag(I)‐crosslinked single‐chain nanoparticles (SCNPs) is reported and their application as catalysts is demonstrated. Specifically, a copolymer of styrenic benzimidazolium chloride is synthesized as a linear precursor via reversible addition‐fragmentation chain‐transfer polymerization. Metalation of the benzimidazolium moieties by Ag(I) resulted in the intramolecular cross‐linking of single chains via the formation of silver‐N‐heterocyclic carbene (Ag‐NHC) linkages under dilute conditions. The successful formation of well‐defined, robust SCNPs is evidenced by size‐exclusion chromatography, dynamic light scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. Finally, it is demonstrated that the Ag‐SCNPs can be used as NHC pre‐catalysts, by first indirectly evidencing the formation of the corresponding unfolded NHC‐CS2 polybetaine and then organocatalysing a benzoin condensation reaction.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1900071
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number15
Early online date4 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • N-heterocyclic carbenes, organocatalysis, poly(ionic liquid)s, single-chain nanoparticles