Supramolecular polymerization: challenges and advantages of various methods in assessing the aggregation mechanism
Oligothiophenes with branched alkyl end groups show distinct aggregation in organic solvents. The process of supramolecular polymerization is assessed by three different methods (UV-vis absorption and fluorescence emission spectroscopy and dynamic light scattering) to exclude artifacts. An apparent dependence of the degree of aggregation on the concentration of the oligomers is observed. Above the upper limit of concentration (a lower micromolar range for the present class of compounds), experimental data delivered conflicting results and the concentration should not therefore be exceeded. Scanning force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations confirm the formation of one-dimensional aggregates with presumably helical arrangement of the achiral monomers.