Functional systems with orthogonal dynamic covalent bonds
This review summarizes the use of orthogonal dynamic covalent bonds to build functional systems. Dynamic covalent bonds are unique because of their dual nature. They can be as labile as non-covalent interactions or as permanent as covalent bonds, depending on conditions. Examples from nature, reaching from the role of disulfides in protein folding to thioester exchange in polyketide biosynthesis, indicate how dynamic covalent bonds are best used in functional systems. Several synthetic functional systems that employ a single type of dynamic covalent bonds have been reported. Considering that most functional systems make simultaneous use of several types of non-covalent interactions together, one would expect the literature to contain many examples in which different types of dynamic covalent bonds are similarly used in tandem. However, the incorporation of orthogonal dynamic covalent bonds into functional systems is a surprisingly rare and recent development. This review summarizes the available material comprehensively, covering a remarkably diverse collection of functions. However, probably more revealing than the specific functions addressed is that the questions asked are consistently quite unusual, very demanding and highly original, focusing on molecular systems that can self-sort, self-heal, adapt, exchange, replicate, transcribe, or even walk and “think” (logic gates). This focus on adventurous chemistry off the beaten track supports the promise that with orthogonal dynamic covalent bonds we can ask questions that otherwise cannot be asked. The broad range of functions and concepts covered should appeal to the supramolecular organic chemist but also to the broader community.