Our research program aims to design molecular-level reactivity into macromolecular systems that can respond to external stimuli. This has provided a forum in which our teams push the boundaries of polymer chemistry and collectively integrate new reaction development, precision synthesis, materials science, and engineering. In the design of stimuli-responsive materials and systems, we approach problems with the mindset that chemistry is the “central science.”

Accordingly, we emphasize discovery of more efficient synthetic techniques, establishment of structure-reactivity principles, and correlations between molecular structure and bulk (macroscopic) materials properties. Importantly, our goals and fullest potential are only realized through intensive collaborative efforts that integrate our breakthroughs in polymer chemistry with cutting-edge mechanical, chemical, and biological engineering. In each of the three main focus areas below, there are examples of fundamental research challenges that have solutions rooted in new chemical breakthroughs, as well as collaborative efforts to transition from fundamental to applied research.

Metal-Free Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization (MF-ROMP)

With expertise in physical organic, synthetic, and materials chemistry, as well as chemical engineering, the metal-free (MF) subgroup is interested in expanding the utility of organoredox catalysis in olefin metathesis reactions, with a particular interest in photoredox metal-free ring-opening metathesis polymerization (MF-ROMP).  Our current studies include elucidating the mechanistic landscape of MF-ROMP, expanding the utility of MF-ROMP polymers by incorporating functional monomers or chain-transfer agents, developing novel metal-free strategies for post-polymerization modification, and reactor engineering to facilitate scaling this emerging technology beyond the lab.

Additive Manufacturing (AM)

The Additive Manufacturing subgroup aims to understand how 3D-printing can be leveraged to access improved material functionality and sustainability. We approach this through functional monomer/polymer syntheses, resin, ink, and feed formulation, material processing, print method development, and part geometry optimization. We are especially interested in multi-material print methods and look to develop new additive processes for materials that would otherwise not be accessible for traditional 3D-printing technologies.

Functional and Responsive Materials (FARM)

Functional and responsive materials are designed to respond to specific stimuli, (e.g. mechanical force, heat, or light) which drive useful chemical responses in polymer systems. Our research group aims to design new stimuli-responsive platforms that enable fundamental understanding of polymer reactivity, with directed use towards desired applications, such as catalysis, force-sensing, rapid degradation, or reprocessible materials. Leveraging synthetic, analytical, and computational skill sets, we design force-sensitive mechanophores, self-immolative polymers, and dynamic covalent networks amongst other systems towards these goals.