As physical and synthetic chemists, we are interested in understanding how the molecular-scale chemistry of polymeric materials connects to their bulk properties. Some of our current research interests include:
Polyelectrolyte complex coacervates are a fascinating class of polymer-rich materials formed by associative phase separation of oppositely-charged polyelectrolytes. We are studying how the phase behavior and materials properties of these materials depend on the polymer composition, with an eye to understanding how molecular-scale interactions (such as hydrophobic interactions, or interactions between adjacent charges) scale to the bulk material.
Using polymeric handles to apply force across chemical bonds is a promising route to controlling many types of reactions. We are studying how polymer architecture affects the molecular-scale force distributions that arise when a bulk sample is deformed. We hope to use this knowledge to establish "design rules" that help others use polymeric materials as platforms for efficient mechanochemical activation.
Polymerizing both ionic species of an ionic liquid can slow down ion motion enough that it effectively “locks” the ions in place. We are investigating how the dynamics of ion motion in such materials depend on chemical features of the polymers, and are working with collaborators to understand how these materials can be used for applications in flexible electronics and carbon capture.
Check back for other projects as we get them posted!