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  1. null (Ed.)
    Biological structure-function relationships offer incomparable paradigms for charge-transfer (CT) science and its implementation in solar-energy engineering, organic electronics, and photonics. Electrets are systems with co-directionally oriented electric dopes with immense importance for CT science, and bioinspired molecular electrets are polyamides of anthranilic-acid derivatives with designs originating from natural biomolecular motifs. This publication focuses on the synthesis of molecular electrets with ether substituents. As important as ether electret residues are for transferring holes under relatively high potentials, the synthesis of their precursors presents formidable challenges. Each residue in the molecular electrets is introduced as its 2-nitrobenzoic acid (NBA) derivative. Hence, robust and scalable synthesis of ether derivatives of NBA is essential for making such hole-transfer molecular electrets. Purdie-Irvine alkylation, using silver oxide, produces with 90% yield the esters of the NBA building block for iso-butyl ether electrets. It warrants additional ester hydrolysis for obtaining the desired NBA precursor. Conversely, Williamson etherification selectively produces the same free-acid ether derivative in one-pot reaction, but a 40% yield. The high yields of Purdie-Irvine alkylation and the selectivity of the Williamson etherification provide important guidelines for synthesizing building blocks for bioinspired molecular electrets and a wide range of other complex ether conjugates. 
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  2. This article reports two discoveries. (1) 2-Methoxyethanol induces unprecedented selectivity for etherification of 5-hydroxy-2-nitrobenzic acids without forming undesired esters. (2) Such compounds are precursors for amides showing unusual robustness against oxidative degradation, essential for molecular electrets that transfer strongly oxidizing holes at about −6.4 eV vs. vacuum. 
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  3. Abstract “Biomimetic” and “bioinspired” define different aspects of the impacts that biology exerts on science and engineering. Biomimicking improves the understanding of how living systems work, and builds tools for bioinspired endeavors. Biological inspiration takes ideas from biology and implements them in unorthodox manners, exceeding what nature offers. Molecular electrets, i.e. systems with ordered electric dipoles, are key for advancing charge-transfer (CT) science and engineering. Protein helices and their biomimetic analogues, based on synthetic polypeptides, are the best-known molecular electrets. The inability of native polypeptide backbones to efficiently mediate long-range CT, however, limits their utility. Bioinspired molecular electrets based on anthranilamides can overcome the limitations of their biological and biomimetic counterparts. Polypeptide helices are easy to synthesize using established automated protocols. These protocols, however, fail to produce even short anthranilamide oligomers. For making anthranilamides, the residues are introduced as their nitrobenzoic-acid derivatives, and the oligomers are built from their C- to their N-termini via amide-coupling and nitro-reduction steps. The stringent requirements for these reduction and coupling steps pose non-trivial challenges, such as high selectivity, quantitative yields, and fast completion under mild conditions. Addressing these challenges will provide access to bioinspired molecular electrets essential for organic electronics and energy conversion. 
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