Microporous and Degradable Polymers for a Sustainable Future by Prof. Yan Xia, Stanford University



Microporous and Degradable Polymers for a Sustainable Future

Prof. Yan Xia

Department of Chemistry, Stanford  University

Thursday, October 27, Webinar at 6:30 PM Pacific time


Innovative polymer chemistry plays an important role in achieving a sustainable future. I will present two types of polymers my lab has developed toward this goal – enabling energy-efficient chemical separations and recyclable thermosets. The first type is microporous ladder-shaped polymers that function as size-sieving membranes for the separation of important gases with minimal energy consumption and environmental impact. We serendipitously discovered an interesting structure-dependent aging behavior for these polymer membranes – separation selectivity is increased considerably over time without losing permeability significantly. By tuning the polymer chain configurations, we have obtained mechanically robust membranes with an unprecedented combination of ultrahigh selectivity and permeability, setting record performance for many gas separations. The second type of polymer is degradable/recyclable thermosets based on dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and cyclic enol ether. An overlooked reactivity of Grubbs catalysts allowed us to synthesize polyDCPD thermosets and composites with a wide range of remarkable mechanical properties, easy processibility, and on-demand degradability. I will present the enabling chemistry for these developments, optimization of material properties and performance, and paths toward real-world applications.

Speaker Background & Research Interests:

Yan Xia is an associate professor in the Chemistry department at Stanford University. He grew up in Beijing and received his undergraduate degree from Peking University ('02), MSc from McMaster University ('05), and PhD from Caltech ('10) all in Chemistry, where he was trained under the tutelage of Profs. Bob Grubbs (deceased) and Julie Kornfield. Following his PhD study, he took a well-paid “sabbatical” in industry to work at Dow Chemical as a senior chemist for one and a half years, but decided curiosity-driven rather than application-driven research is at his heart. He then quit the job and transitioned back to academia as a poor postdoc at MIT for a year. He was extremely fortunate to find a job at Stanford and opened his lab there in the chemistry department in the summer of 2013, and became a tenured member of the department in 2020 amidst all the chaos that year. His research interest lies in the design, synthesis, and manipulation of organic materials and polymers. His research group leverages a range of unusual molecular structures and overlooked reactivities to develop innovative soft materials.


DATE: Thursday, October 27

Registration deadline: Wednesday, October 26, 1:00 PM.

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Webinar Timing: 6:30 PM.

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