Shape, size and composition are nature’s most fundamental design features, enabling highly complex functionalities. Despite recent advances, the independent control of shape, size and chemistry of macromolecules remains a synthetic challenge. We develop new synthetic strategies by combing reactor engineering principles and controlled polymerizations.
We work on advanced encapsulation techniques in order to perform water sensitive catalytic polymerizations in an aqueous dispersion. These encapsulation techniques employ microfluidics, micelle formation, and microemulsions to form a protective shell around the catalyst. These techniques require a detailed understanding in mass transfer and polymerization kinetics.
The incorporation of polar groups into industrially relevant polyolefins is challenging due to their incompatible chemistries, to circumvent this issue we have developed two approaches. The first one consists of combining a postpolymerization functionalization strategy with subsequent polar monomer polymerization to enable the facile synthesis of a wide multitude of polyolefin containing polar block copolymers. The second approach uses silanes as chain transfer agents, which allows the incorporation of non-polymerizable polar groups to produce semi-telechelic polyolefins.
Our goal is to implement novel heterogenization methodologies by combining recent developments in organometallics catalysis with simple reactor engineering. These systems will enable in-depth kinetic studies, thus providing detailed mechanistic insight which will be leveraged to design next generation catalysts.