Current Research Projects

Polydisperse Block Copolymers

Block copolymer has the unique ability to self-assemble into different microstructures; however its commercial use is still very limited due to the high synthesis and processing cost associated with the production of monodisperse materials.  If we can tolerate polydispersity in block copolymers, their production cost may be lowered to become more commercially attractive.  We are interested in the synthesis and characterization of polydisperse block copolymers.  By understanding the effect of varying polydispersity on block copolymer phase behavior we hope to establish polydispersity as an additional tool to manipulate block copolymer properties.

Polysaccharide-Containing Block Copolymers

Polysaccharides are long chains of sugar molecules that are widely available in nature.  These polymers typically contain reactive hydroxyl groups which also make them suitable for incorporation into a block copolymer architecture and for post-polymerization functionalization.  We are working on the development of these materials as greener alternatives to conventional thermoplastic elastomers.  We are also exploring their applications in areas including fabrication of nanolithography mask and separation membrane.

DNA- and RNA-Block Copolymers

DNA and RNA chains with desired biological functions are linked to synthetic polymer chains to create hybrid block copolymers.  One of the most interesting aspects of DNA and RNA molecules is their ability to hybridize with a complementary strand.  This allows DNA- and RNA-block copolymers to self-assemble into interesting morphologies that are not accessible to other types of block copolymers.  We are interested in studying their self-assembly behavior in solution and in solid-state.  These hybrid polymers are expected to find many applications in biotechnology industry.