Robert W. Kopitzke, Professor of Chemistry
In broad terms my research is on the synthesis and characterization of new polymers. I currently have three narrower research interests that fall within this area.
1. Proton-Exchange Membrane Electrolytes: My original research efforts have dealt with developing novel, polymeric proton exchange membranes (PEM's) for use in electrochemical cells (specifically- fuel cells). Students who work in this area work on the synthesis of sulfonated monomers and there subsequent polymerization. Currently, one of my students is working on a monomer synthetic route utilizing Suzuki coupling.
2. Synthesis of Partially Fluorinated Step-Growth Polymers: The most important commercial fluorinated or partially fluorinated polymers are derived from chain-growth polyerization of vinyl monomers (for example polytetrafluoroethylene or Teflon, polyvinylidene fluoride and polyvinyl fluoride). Fluorine containing, non-vinyl derived polymers with are less common (and more expensive) and are of interest to me because of their potentially high thermal and chemical stability. Two specific projects that students are working on in this area are 1. The development of the difluoromethyl group (CF2) as an activator for nucleophilic aromatic substitution in the synthesis of new polyarylethers, and 2. The Suzuki Polycondensation of aromatic backbone polymers linked with CF2 groups.
3. Synthesis of Dendrimers and Hyperbranched Polymers: The
current project in this area is the synthesis dendrimers with
terminal phosphine oxide groups as flame retardant additives.
Some students and their research projects from 2010-2011:
- Patrick Homyak Synthesis of Novel Fluorinated Poly(aryl ether)s by Step Growth Polymerization of Bis-(4-fluorophenyl)-difluoromethane.
Some students and their research projects from 2009-2010:
- Matthew West Synthesis of a partially fluorinated AB2 monomer: 3,5-dihydroxypheny-l,4’-fluorophenyldifluoromethane
- Jackie ODonnell The Synthesis of Partially Fluorinated Poly(aryl) Ethers