Dendrimers are repetitively branched molecules. The name comes from the Greek word "δένδρον" (pronounced dendron), which translates to "tree". Synonymous terms for dendrimer include arborols and cascade molecules. However, dendrimer is currently the internationally accepted term. A dendrimer is typically symmetric around the core, and often adopts a spherical three-dimensional morphology. The word dendron is also encountered frequently. A dendron usually contains a single chemically addressable group called the focal point. The difference between dendrons and dendrimers is illustrated in figure one, but the terms are typically encountered interchangeably.
The first dendrimers were made by divergent synthesis approaches by Fritz Vögtle in 1978, R.G. Denkewalter at Allied Corporation in 1981, Donald Tomalia at Dow Chemical in 1983 and in 1985, and by George Newkome in 1985. In 1990 a convergent synthetic approach was introduced by Jean Fréchet. Dendrimer popularity then greatly increased, resulting in more than 5,000 scientific papers and patents by the year 2005.
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