Current Research Projects

DNA-Containing Block Copolymers

DNA molecules are capable of carrying out highly specific biological functions, but they are often difficult to handle in a process. Synthetic polymers, on the other hand, are mechanically robust, but they do not naturally interact with biological agents. When the two are brought together to form block copolymers, the resulting hybrid material is expected to retain the functionalities specific to each of its components. Furthermore, by linking DNA and synthetic polymer in a blocky architecture, the DNA block copolymer can potentially self-assemble into different nano-sized structures. Current research projects include the synthesis and characterization of novel DNA block copolymers; the complexation of DNA block copolymers with cationic molecules to form polyelectrolyte complex micelles; and the utilization of DNA block copolymers for nucleic acids delivery.

Saccharide-Containing Block Copolymers

Saccharides are naturally occurring molecules that are available in different sizes and chain structures. Due to their wide availability and renewability, there has been an increasing effort to utilize saccharides for the development of more sustainable material applications. Our lab is interested in combining saccharides and synthetic polymers to form block copolymers. Current projects include the synthesis of saccharide-containing block copolymers; the characterization of block copolymer morphology; and the application of saccharide block copolymers as greener material alternatives.

Reactive Homopolymers and Block Copolymers

Reactive polymers serve as versatile precursor materials as their properties can be easily tuned via post-polymerization reactions. The functionalized polymers exhibit rich structures and properties thus can be utilized in a wide range of applications. We work on the development of highly reactive polymers, with a particular focus on pentafluorophenyl (PFP) ester based polymers. By utilizing the PFP-based reactive polymers, we are currently working on the development of polymer surfaces for antibody immobilization and anti-fouling purposes, and the synthesis of brush block copolymers with variable brush density and chain length.