"Catalysis within Polymers and the Study of Proximal Effects"
Prof. Madalyn Radlauer
Department of Chemistry
San Jose State University
Catalysts, molecules that increase the rate of chemical reactions, are ubiquitous in nature and industry. Without catalysis many essential biological reactions could not occur at physiological temperatures, car exhaust would include more toxic components, and we wouldn’t have many of our modern conveniences. There are many ways that new catalytic reactions could continue to benefit our society, for example, by providing new efficient methods for fuel production. Yet, these reactions can be very difficult to achieve. When researching catalytic transformations and how to best optimize catalytic systems, an age-old question often appears: what will determine reactivity and selectivity for the catalytic metal center, sterics (the physical environment) or electronics? In my research experiences, I have found that sterics are essential for catalyst design and my research group is taking those observations forward by incorporating catalysts into macromolecular environments. We are aiming to tune these catalytic systems and enable unprecedented synthetic chemistry.
As mentioned, proximity and sterics play a large role in catalysis and polymer chemistry.
For example, in the development and testing of bimetallic polymerization catalysts where the two metal centers are held on the same side of the molecule by a rigid ligand framework, the proximity of the second metal changes reactivity at the first. The resulting enhancements of polar group tolerance or isoselectivity in olefin polymerization are not observed in related bimetallic systems with distal metal centers or in monometallic analogues.
In multiblock polymers, the proximity of incompatible blocks due to a covalent connection engenders frustration in the system. This frustration can produce interesting and complicated morphologies in the bulk and in thin films, where thermodynamic penalties are expected to minimize the inter-material dividing surface.
Our current work aims to harness the power of proximity in directing reactivity, selectivity, and equilibria to enhance catalysis by embedding catalysts within polymeric frameworks. We are targeting transition metal catalysts appended to synthetic organic polymers to study the effects of the macromolecular environment on catalytic reactions applicable to organic synthesis and fuel production.
Madalyn Radlauer loves doing and teaching chemistry. Her PhD at Caltech with Theodor Agapie involved designing, synthesizing, and testing bimetallic polymerization catalysts. Following that, she was a Dreyfus Environmental Chemistry Fellow with Marc Hillmyer at the University of Minnesota where, in addition to research in polymer chemistry, she was the co-lead for the Women in Science and Engineering Initiative. In August 2017, she joined the San Jose State University Chemistry Department as an Assistant Professor where her undergraduate and master’s research students study applications of polymers as scaffolds for inorganic catalysis.
Monday, December 17
Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA