Laboratory Learning Program 2024 - Determining Copolymer Composition by Multidetector Gel Permeation Chromatography (CBE-01)

Research Opportunity Number: CBE-01

Project Title: Determining Copolymer Composition by Multidetector Gel Permeation Chromatography

Project Summary: Often, one cannot obtain all the properties one desires from a “homopolymer”—a polymer made solely from one monomer. A common solution is to prepare a “copolymer” of two (or even more) monomers, each of which imparts a particular feature to the material. But there are an infinite number of ways to combine even just two monomers, and often the many polymer chains in an ensemble will have different compositions—and those differences may be correlated with molecular weight. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) is a technique which allows separation of polymer chains by molecular weight, while the use of multiple detectors simultaneously (e.g., a differential refractive index (DRI) detector with an ultraviolet (UV) absorbance detector, or a UV detector operating at two different wavelengths) can provide information on the polymer’s composition at each point in the chromatogram. A current interest in our lab is in the synthesis of “block-random” copolymers of aromatic (UV-absorbing) and nonaromatic (non-UV-absorbing) monomer units, where the monomers can be arranged either randomly or in long sequences (blocks), and where individual polymer chains can contain both block and random sequences. The student will use a multidetector GPC system (DRI + two-wavelength UV/vis) to characterize the composition of polymers synthesized in our group, and how that composition varies across the molecular weight distribution. This information will be used to guide the development of improved syntheses, to attain polymers with controlled monomer sequences.

Student Roles and Responsibilities: Student will prepare the solutions, conduct the GPC measurements, and analyze the results.

Additional Considerations: Start and end dates are flexible, but student should be available essentially full-time (at least 35 hours/week) for a minimum of 7 weeks (longer preferred).

Department/Institute: Chemical & Biological Engineering Department

Faculty Sponsor: Richard Register

Participation Dates: 6/24/2024 to 8/30/2024

Stipend Offered: $0

Number of Internships Available: 0-1

Application Deadline: March 15, 2024, midnight eastern daylight time