Designer Materials: Drexel Researchers Deliver Made To Order Polymers

Drexel Materials researchers from Assistant Professor Andrew Magenau’s Macromolecular Materials Group have developed an efficient chemical reaction by which one polymer substrate, composed of repeat units like beads on a necklace, can become any one of several different thousand potential materials.  By tweaking reaction conditions, made to order functional polymer groups with many different applications can be created.

As recently reported in the journal Macromolecules, this discovery gives researchers an extraordinary opportunity to study fundamental questions in polymer science. They can create a set of compounds that are similar but have slight differences and effectively measure how those slight differences affect a variety of material properties, such as optical properties, strength, flexibility, or toughness.

Additionally, this opens the door to a wide variety of synthetic routes for making complex, controlled architectures at the nanoscale which can serve as the basis for critical innovations such as advanced membranes for water filtration or next generation electrical devices.

Parent polymer transformed into sibling polymer
The Pd-catalyzed Suzuki-Miyaura coupling reaction has been adapted for use as a versatile method for efficient modification of polymer repeat units, as demonstrated by installation of over 10 different chemical functional groups.

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