Basically what the title asks. By a "chain", I mean a structure where you have two or more ring polymers (polymers where the ends are joined to form a large circular/ring-shaped molecule; different from something like a benzene ring), which interlock like links in a chain.

I'm not able to find much information about ring polymers (seems DNA is the most documented instance of something similar, since it sometimes takes the form of a ring in bacteria/viruses). Would it be possible for this sort of chain to exist? I'm mostly just asking out of curiosity, since if it is possible, one could imagine fun things like rings of ring polymers and molecule-scale chainmail.

  • $\begingroup$ See this answer. Examples in the answer involve just two or three "links", but a comment refers to a case with seventy-one! $\endgroup$ Mar 21, 2023 at 23:56
  • $\begingroup$ Graphene (if we are not considering interlocking) $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2023 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ Frazer Stoddart got his Nobel for partly for pioneering just such things. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


Absolutely! Organic rings can interpenetrate. A complex, downright amazing, example is forming molecular Borromean rings. These rings interlock so that removing any single ring causes the other two to come apart.

Borromean Rings

In 2004, J. Fraser Stoddart et al created a "Borromeate" of an organic zinc complex.

Zn Borromeate

Try making the far simpler Olympic ring symbol before synthesizing Zn Borromeate ;-)


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