Integrated catalysis aims to synthesize polymers with high complexity from simple feedstocks, in a single reactor, without separate steps. With combinations of spatial and temporal control of a reaction system, we can overcome compatibility challenges (catalyst-catalyst, catalyst-product, catalyst-reactant) of multiple catalytic cycles. It is also referred to as “one pot” catalysis.
How do we control the process of integrated catalysis?
Spatial control: By positioning reactive sites at specific locations within a reaction vessel via surface functionalization of catalysts, we can segregate incompatible chemical environments. Such a design can prevent decomposition of reactive intermediates and enable control over the local concentration of reagents.
Temporal control: We can control a reaction sequence temporally through the use of external triggers to switch the catalysts between “on” and “off” states. Examples of external triggers include electrochemistry, concentrations of chemical reagents and the presence of light. These stimuli can generate multiple catalyst states that have orthogonal activities toward different monomers. Click here to learn more.
For more information on integrated catalysis, watch this webinar given by our director!
Our center uses integrated catalysis to create copolymers. Plastics are examples of widely used organic polymers, and you can see more on the different types of plastics and their recyclability here.
Polymers can be separated into two different types: homopolymers and copolymers. The repeating units of homopolymers are identical, whereas copolymers are created from two or more different monomers. Our research aims to primarily create copolymers and obtain fine microstructure control through the design of integrated catalysis with consistent repeating units and patterns controlled in our catalysis.