Our Research

The Center for Sustainable Polymers aims to establish foundational chemical principles that enable the efficient and economical conversion of natural and abundant molecules into tomorrow’s advanced polymers.
We approach this challenge through three interrelated Grand Challenge Project Areas:

Efficient and sustainable conversion of biomass to polymer ingredients

CSP researchers will discover new, efficient, non-toxic, and often catalytic chemical transformations of biomass and other natural product-based feedstocks into both new and established polymer ingredients.

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High-performance sustainable plastics, elastomers, and thermosets

CSP researchers will discover new sustainable polymers with precisely controlled molecular structures, and establish relationships between structure, morphology and performance properties.

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Sustainable polymer degradation, chemical recycling, and compatibilization

CSP researchers will discover sustainable polymers with capabilities for triggered degradation, chemical recycling, and compatibilizers to improve upon the existing end-of-life for most polymers.

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EFFICIENT AND SUSTAINABLE CONVERSION OF BIOMASS TO POLYMER INGREDIENTS

OVERVIEW

CSP researchers work to discover new, efficient, non-toxic, and catalytically mediated chemical transformations of biomass and other natural product-based feedstocks into both established and new polymer ingredients.

RESEARCH PORTFOLIO

Organic, inorganic, and biosynthetic chemistry

FOCUS: Scalable, catalytic conversions of relevant and readily available small molecules; “Rewiring” industrially tractable microbial hosts to create a diverse array of polymer precursors by processes amenable to scale-up for industrial bioreactors.

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INVESTIGATORS

Michelle Chang

Berkeley

Research Interests: Biochemistry; Chemical Biology; Synthetic Biology

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Christopher Cramer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Molecular modeling; Sustainability; Catalysis; Theory

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Paul Dauenhauer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Biomass; Zeolite; Reactor

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William Dichtel

Northwestern

Research Interests: COFs; Crystaline Films; 2D Polymers; Water Purification; Nanostructured Materials

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Brett Fors

Cornell

Research Interests: Development of new synthetic methods and catalyst systems to control polymer architecture, composition, and function

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John Hartwig

Berkeley

Research Interests: Catalysis; Biomass conversion; Silylation

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Marc Hillmyer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Polymer synthesis; Hybrid polymer structures

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Thomas Hoye

Minnesota

Research Interests: Synthetic and mechanistic organic chemistry

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Theresa Reineke

Minnesota

Research Interests: The synthetic design, chemical characterization, and biological study of sophisticated macromolecules.

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William Tolman

Minnesota

Research Interests: Catalysis; Mechanism

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Dean Toste

Berkeley

Research Interests: The development of catalysts, catalytic reactions and methods for organic synthesis.

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Kechun Zhang

Minnesota

Research Interests: Metabolic Engineering; Synthetic Biology; Sustainable Material

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HIGH-PERFORMANCE SUSTAINABLE PLASTICS, ELASTOMERS, AND THERMOSETS

OVERVIEW

CSP researchers work to discover new sustainable polymers with precisely controlled molecular structures and to establish crucial relationships between chemical structure, morphology, and performance properties.

RESEARCH PORTFOLIO

Catalysis, high-throughput experimentation, theoretical studies, mechanistic studies of polymerization processes, polymer properties, polymer morphology

FOCUS: Broaden the scope of existing polymerization strategies and develop entirely new methods to discover new sustainable polymers with advanced properties that are better than their petroleum-based counterparts.

FEATURE PUBLICATIONS

INVESTIGATORS

Christopher Alabi

Cornell

Research Interests: Sequence-defined polymers; Vitrimers; Antimicrobial agents

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Frank Bates

Minnesota

Research Interests: Block polymers; Structure; Dynamics; Properties

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Geoffrey Coates

Cornell

Research Interests: Catalysts; Polymers

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Christopher Cramer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Molecular modeling; Sustainability; Catalysis; Theory

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William Dichtel

Northwestern

Research Interests: COFs; Crystaline Films; 2D Polymers; Water Purification; Nanostructured Materials

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Brett Fors

Cornell

Research Interests: Development of new synthetic methods and catalyst systems to control polymer architecture, composition, and function

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Marc Hillmyer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Polymer synthesis; Hybrid polymer structures

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Theresa Reineke

Minnesota

Research Interests: The synthetic design, chemical characterization, and biological study of sophisticated macromolecules.

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Stuart Rowan

University of Chicago

Research Interests: Polymer Synthesis; Cellulose Nanocrystals; Composites

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William Tolman

Minnesota

Research Interests: Catalysis; Mechanism

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Jane Wissinger

Minnesota

Research Interests: Green chemistry; Renewable polymers; Laboratory experiments

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SUSTAINABLE POLYMER DEGRADATION, CHEMICAL RECYCLING, AND COMPATIBILIZATION

OVERVIEW

CSP researchers work to discover and establish polymeric architectures that provide superior performance while in use and have innocuous end-lives including controlled degradation, chemical and traditional recycling pathways.

RESEARCH PORTFOLIO

Polymer architecture, degradation, chemical recycling, recycling

FOCUS: Study and improve the performance properties of polymers, in particular as generated by the first two Grand Challenge Project Areas.

FEATURE PUBLICATIONS

INVESTIGATORS

Frank Bates

Minnesota

Research Interests: Block polymers; Structure; Dynamics; Properties

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Geoffrey Coates

Cornell

Research Interests: Catalysts; Polymers

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William Dichtel

Northwestern

Research Interests: COFs; Crystaline Films; 2D Polymers; Water Purification; Nanostructured Materials

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Christopher Ellison

Minnesota

Research Interests: Polymers; Nanostructures; Processing

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Marc Hillmyer

Minnesota

Research Interests: Polymer synthesis; Hybrid polymer structures

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Julia Kalow

Northwestern

Research Interests: Vitrimers; Photochemistry; Recycling; Elastomers

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Anne LaPointe

Cornell

Research Interests: Catalysis; Synthesis; High-throughput

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