Smart Polymers for End of Life Repurposing and as Water Soluble Catalysts for Chemical Biology

Friday, January 31, 2020 - 1:10pm
Event Type: 

Steven Zimmerman

University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

Host: Zhao

This talk will focus on two classes of polymers that were designed for sustainability.  The first class is called single chain polymeric nanoparticles (SCNPs).  These are water-soluble polymers that fold into a compact structure that loosely resembles a protein.  However, its structure is less well defined but it can be engineered to exhibit similar and significantly broader activities.  Indeed, we have integrated in one or more transition metal catalysts within the SCNP structure so that the overall nanoparticle performs like a metalloenzyme.  A portion of the talk will focus on characterizing these nanoparticles, demonstrating their enzyme-like properties, and exploring structure activity relationships with a ranges of substrates. Beyond performing catalysis in water, an environmentally friendly solvent, biological applications can be envisioned for these nanoparticles and at least one example will be given.

The second part of the talk focuses on the development of degradable polyurethanes for end-of-life repurposing.  Millions of tons of polyurethanes (PU) are produced every day. The widespread commercial success of PUs is in large part because of their low cost, facile synthesis, and attractive physical properties. Thus, a wide range of polyols and polyisocyanates undergo poly-addition polymerization to produce elastomers, foams, adhesives, and coatings for a myriad of applications. Due to PU’s mass production globally, it is to no surprise that there is an enormous amount of PU waste generated daily. PU waste has become a huge global concern since most are disposed into landfills or the ocean, harming aquatic wildlife. This talk will discuss on new class of PUs that can be degraded down to slightly modified polyols and then repurposed into new materials.  Importantly, the degradation can be performed at room temperature with an organic solvent and an organic acid.