Rigoberto Advincula, professor of macromolecular science and engineering, recently received a $300,0000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his work, titled “Supramolecularly Templated Living REP-ROP Polymerizations and Block Copolymers.”
Celtic art, Boy Scout knots, Mobius strip ring and M.C. Escher’s art have fascinated the viewer and challenge their ability to trace the origin of connectivity. For some time now, mathematicians have described the topology of rings and cyclic overlapping structures with their programmable qualities into the so-called Knot Theory.
Even in biology, the topology of DNA can sometimes result in knotted structures, which are considered harmful defects that can cause diseases. In polymer science, understanding chain entanglement and compatibilization in surfaces can result in new materials with interesting physical properties and chemical properties that can extend the applications of plastics, coatings, rubber and composites.
Chemical companies have been unable to use them for any commercial applications due to the lack of high yielding manufacturing routes while polymer physics experimentalist are hampered by the lack of samples to investigate.
By pursuing these challenges in a project, this will translate to training and mentoring opportunities for future scientists, interdisciplinary research, working with industry and international collaboration.
Advincula’s project will focus on the design and synthesis of new catenated polymer and block copolymer compositions via monomer ring opening and macroinitiator ring expansion polymerizations or REP-ROP Polymerizations.
By utilizing the Knot Theory, it should be possible to obtain various knotted macromolecules, which have controlled entanglements and block copolymer composition with high yields and high molecular weight.