Caleb Reese, Graduate Student, Boyes Lab GW Department of Chemistry

Aromatic Polyamide Brushes: Next Generation Surface Coatings

Caleb Reese, Graduate Student, Boyes Lab, GW Chemistry Department
Caleb Reese, Graduate Student, Boyes Lab, GW Chemistry Department

For over half a century, the modification of surfaces using polymers has been directly responsible for both the expansion and improvement of existing technologies and the development of new technologies. Of the many different surface modification techniques available, polymer brushes have received considerable attention and they have been used in applications ranging from sensors to smart coatings. Conventionally, polymer brushes have been grown using surface-grafted random coil polymers typically synthesized via the grafting from method using a living radical polymerization technique. Recently, many new polymerization methods have been developed to expand the type of polymers that can utilize this grafting from process. Chain-growth condensation polymerization is one of these methods that has been developed to produce rigid-rod like polymer brushes. These brushes have been theorized to possess improved properties over conventional polymer brushes including tribological properties, long-range order, and liquid crystallinity. Previously published research from our research group was the first demonstration of aromatic polyamide brushes synthesized using this chain-growth condensation technique. While these initial studies were very useful in developing a fundamental understanding of these new types of polymer brushes, they were limited to one monomer with a side chain of little practical interest. The next step is focused on creating new monomers for the preparation of aromatic polyamide brushes with side chain functionalities such as protecting side chains and polyethylene glycol side chains that will allow for rigid rod polymer brushes with new properties and lead to new applications in reverse osmosis (RO) distillation membranes for water desalination and CO2 capture devices. This presentation will outline the rational design, synthesis, and characterization of these new polymer brushes, as well as, providing initial evidence of the exciting new properties these systems have.

Caleb Reese is a graduate student in the Boyes research group at George Washington University. Caleb received his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Belhaven University in 2016, and continued at Colorado School of Mines pursuing a PhD in Chemistry. In 2019 Caleb followed his academic advisor to GW University. Caleb's current work is focused on synthesizing aromatic polyamide brushes for desalination reverse osmosis membranes. From this work, Caleb has been the author or co-author on 3 peer-reviewed papers and given 2 presentations at National ACS meetings. Caleb has become versed in synthesizing and characterizing monomers, polymers, and polymer brushes using techniques such as gel permeation chromatography, NMR, ellipsometry, goniometry, air-sensitive
polymerization techniques, column chromatography, and small molecule monomer synthesis, among others.