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Research Interests - William Mungall

The search for new polymers with high thermal stability and reversible oxidation-reduction chemistry is important in the development of novel materials for electronics applications. Our research program involves the synthesis and investigation of novel ladder polymers. The polymerization process is outlined in the reaction scheme shown below:

The monomer for this polymerization, 1, contains both the benzocyclobutane moiety, which will thermally ring-open to form a reactive diene, 2, and the dieneophile at the carbon-carbon double bond of the quinone ring. We have developed an efficient, five-step synthesis of the new monomer, 1 (R = H), and experiments have shown that the monomer polymerizes at 250 °C in an exothermic reaction. The resulting polymer is thermally very stable. Preliminary attempts to characterize the structure of the polymer have been limited by the insolubility of the polymer. Recently we made a collaborative arrangement with a group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Dr. Edward Hageman) to characterize these polymers by solid-state NMR spectroscopy. Also, the thermal stability limits, redox chemistry, and electrical properties of the polymer will be examined. We also plan to synthesize monomers substituted with alkyl groups (R = C8H17), which should increase the solubility of the resulting polymer.

Students involved in this research project will develop skills in organic synthesis and in a variety of analytical techniques routinely used in our laboratory including FT-NMR spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, high performance liquid chromatography, and thermal analysis. Students will also gain exposure to concepts of polymer chemistry and organic synthesis through group meetings, use of the literature, and presentation of their work at student symposia.