Advances in single chain technology
The recent ability to manipulate and visualize single atoms at atomic level has given rise to modern bottom-up nanotechnology. Similar exquisite degree of control at the individual polymeric chain level for producing functional soft nanoentities is expected to become a reality in the next few years through the full development of so-called “single chain technology”. Ultra-small unimolecular soft nano-objects endowed with useful, autonomous and smart functions are the expected, long-term valuable output of single chain technology. This review covers the recent advances in single chain technology for the construction of soft nano-objects via chain compaction, with an emphasis in dynamic, letter-shaped and compositionally unsymmetrical single rings, complex multi-ring systems, single chain nanoparticles, tadpoles, dumbbells and hairpins, as well as the potential end-use applications of individual soft nano-objects endowed with useful functions in catalysis, sensing, drug delivery and other uses.