Impossible polymers

A new class thin film polymers previously thought inaccessible to organic chemists has been produced by US researchers. Chris Snively and Jochen Lauterbach of the University of Delaware knew that the textbooks precluded the possibility of synsthesizing polymers from 1,2-disubstituted ethylenes. However, they did not let such received wisdom deter them in their efforts and finally their efforts paid off with the formation of a new type of ultra-thin polymer film. "There's been a rule that these molecules wouldn't polymerize," Snively says, "When I first saw that in a textbook when I was in graduate school, I said to myself, 'Don't tell me I can't do this.'" They mapped out the original synthesis some time ago, but have now used a vapor deposition technique to produce nano-thin films of these materials and are currently investigating their properties. Until the current polymer textbooks are revised, the researchers will continue to relish advising their students to make a marginal correction to their notes.