Cooperation in a deep helical energy well

Mark M. Green, Shneior Lifson, Akio Teramoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to random coil polymers, polyisocyanates maintain a highly extended helical conformation in solution. This structural characteristic causes unusually large chiral optical properties to arise from copolymerization of tiny proportions of optically active monomer isocyanates with achiral isocyanates or even from stereospecific placement of deuterium in the side chain of poly(n‐hexyl isocyanate). These effects can be understood as phenomenologically related to the optical activity amplification properties of vinyl polymers studied by Pino and his co‐workers and ascribed to breaking the energetic degeneracy of the otherwise equally populated left‐ and right‐handed helical states of the backbone. Statistical thermodynamic calculations, based on this model, and analogous to those carried out earlier on the vinyl polymers, allow matching the temperature and molecular weight dependence of the optical activity in poly((R)‐1‐deuterio‐1‐hexyl isocyanate) to the approximate responsible energy terms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-291
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991


  • deuterium
  • macromolecular
  • optical activity
  • polyisocyanate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry


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