Our research program involves the use of organic synthesis for the design, development, and application of new concepts in macromolecular, supramolecular, and materials chemistry. Our research efforts span a number of areas in the chemical sciences and include studies of (a) chiral dendritic macromolecules and the effect of chiral subunits on dendrimer conformation, (b) photochromic dendrimers and linear polymers which undergo structural changes in response to visible light, (c) liquid crystalline materials based on dendritic and photochromic mesogens, and (d) synthesis of new ligands based on saturated nitrogen heterocycles.
We have a continuing interest in the effect of structural perturbations on the properties and functional of dendritic macromolecules. Part of this research addresses the design, synthesis, and study of dendrimeric materials containing chiral moieties in the interior for influencing the conformational order of these 3-dimensional macromolecules. An ultimate goal is to develop materials active for the selective clathration of small guest molecules. Potential applications include chemical separations, sensor technology, environmental remediation, and asymmetric catalysis.
We have recently developed several new classes of dendritic materials containing photochromic subunits. As nature uses light energy to alter function in photoresponsive systems such as photosynthesis, vision, phototropism, and phototaxis, we use light energy to drive gross topological or constitutional changes in fundamentally new dendritic architectures with precisely placed photoresponsive subunits. In short, we can drive dendrimer properties with light stimuli. We have developed two entirely new classes of photoresponsive dendritic macromolecules: (1) Photochromic Dendrimers, and (2) Photolabile Dendrimers. We anticipate that switchable and degradable dendrimers of this type will have application in small molecule transport systems based on their ability to reversibly encapsulate guest molecules. We are continuing to develop these materials as potential transport hosts and photoresponsive supramolecular assemblies.