Program Overview

The objective of our research program is to pioneer the development of fundamental science at the interface between chemistry, materials science, and biomedicine. The specific focus is on the design and synthesis of new hybrid organic-inorganic polymers with hitherto unseen combinations of useful properties. Many of the polymers in our program are based on the polyphosphazene platform.

The work falls into two closely-coupled categories - (1) long-range fundamental science, and (2) development of special aspects of the science that could lead to significant advances in technology and medicine. The second aspect is often carried out through collaborations with investigators in other laboratories.

Posters showing a overview of some of the work done in this laboratory can be viewed as PDF's using the links below.
1.  Advanced Biomaterials
2.  Power and Optical Applications
3.  Synthesis Aspects

(1) Long-Range Fundamental Science

The fundamental chemistry under investigation in our program includes the following topics:

Research on new methods for the synthesis of hybrid inorganic-organic polymers - especially polyphosphazenes and related systems. This includes the development of new reactions to create hybrids of polyphosphazenes with classical organic polymers or silicones - block, graft, comb, star, and dendritic architectures, as well as composite materials.

Investigation of new macromolecular substitution reactions - reaction patterns, mechanisms, linkage of complex organic side groups to the polymers, protection-deprotection reactions. This is a process that gives access to a large number of different polyphosphazenes with widely differing properties.

Detailed characterization of the new polymers to determine the relationship between molecular structure and properties. The ultimate objective is to establish a predictive scheme to anticipate the properties of yet-unsynthesized materials.

Small-molecule model compound chemistry - often the starting point for the development of new polymer synthesis methods and for understanding molecular structure.

Metallo - and other hetero-atomic derivatives related to phosphazenes - the purpose of this work is to expand the portfolio of inorganic-organic polymers into entirely new structures and properties.

Clathrate chemistry - crystalline solids with nano-scale tunnels that penetrate the lattice, which can be used as molecular-scale reaction space or for the separation of molecules according to size and chemical character.

(2) Use of the Fundamental Chemistry to Advance Medical and Technological Research

The fundamental science being carried out in our laboratory is generating a wide range of different materials with numerous potential applications in medicine and engineering. These include:

Bioerodible polymers - materials that hydrolyze in vivo to non-toxic products for uses in tissue engineering and controlled drug delivery.

Nano- and micro-scale structures - a series of materials and constructs, from micelles and microspheres to nanofibers with possible uses in controlled drug delivery, human tissue engineering, microlithography, and superhydrophobic applications.

Responsive polymers - materials that function as variably permeable membranes, artificial muscle- type actuators, switches in microfluidic devices and biomedical shape memory materials.

Polymeric ionic conductors - a major outgrowth of our research, is directed to the development of advanced lithium batteries, solar cells, and proton conductive membranes for fuel cell applications.

Polymers with highly tailored surface properties - superhydrophobic, amphiphilic, or hydrogel surface materials, anti-microbial polymers, immobilized enzyme surfaces, and materials for micropatterning living cell or enzyme arrays in microsensors

Photonic and optical materials - high refractive index polymers, electrochromic, photochromic, and non-linear optical polymers.

High performance elastomers - one of the most advanced applications derived from our earlier work. Includes elastomers that remain flexible at low temperatures, solvent and oil-resistant materials, thermo-oxidatively stable polymers, and fire-resistant elastomers - with numerous applications in aerospace, automotive, and marine engineering.

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Copyright 2006 H. R. Allcock Research Group
Last modified: 10/15/2017