Science China Chemistry

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 338–352 | Cite as

Giant molecules: where chemistry, physics, and bio-science meet

Feature Articles


This feature article focuses on the recent development of giant molecules, which has emerged at the interface among chemistry, physics, and bio-science. Their molecular designs are inspired by natural polymers like proteins and are modularly constructed from molecular nanoparticle building blocks via sequential “click” chemistry. Most important molecular parameters such as topology, composition, and molecular weight can be precisely controlled. Their hierarchical assembly reveals many features reminiscent of both small molecules and proteins yet unusual for conventional synthetic polymers. These features are summarized and compared along with synthetic polymers and proteins. Specifically, examples are given in each category of giant molecules to illustrate the characteristics of their hierarchical assembly across different length, time and energy scales. The idea of “artificial domain” is presented in analogy to the structural domains in proteins. By doing so, we aim to develop a rational and modular approach toward functional materials. The factors that dominate the materials functions are discussed with respect to the precision and dynamics of the assembly. The complexity of structure-function relationship is acknowledged, which suggests that there is still a long way to go toward the convergence of synthetic polymers and biopolymers.


giant molecules molecular nanoparticles protein protein engineering domains 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21674003, 21474003, 91427304), the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (2015AA020941), and the National Science Foundation of US (DMR-0906898, DMR-1409972).


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© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry & Physics of Ministry of Education, Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering, College of Chemistry and Molecular EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Polymer Science and Polymer EngineeringThe University of AkronAkronUSA

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