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Examining Multiblock Polymers: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

In a Science paper, Multiblock Polymers: Panacea or Pandora's Box?, polymer researchers from the University of Minnesota (UMN) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) highlight the seemingly unlimited potential for new methods in polymer synthesis to create multiblock polymers with arbitrary numbers and types of unique sequences. While these synthesis strategies offer the potential for highly controllable soft materials, the number of possibilities introduces new engineering challenges to the field.

The paper is a collaboration among the University of Minnesota MRSEC, which includes Marc Hillmyer and Timothy Lodge from the department of Chemistry (Lodge is also the director of the UMN MRSEC), and Frank Bates, chair of the department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Christopher Bates from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, Kris Delaney from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Glenn Fredrickson from the Materials Research Laboratory and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The paper appeared in the April 26 issue of Science.

"This article concisely outlines a field of immense importance that has been led by investigators here at University of Minnesota: multiblock copolymers," said William Tolman, chair of the Department of Chemistry. "The issues discussed surrounding the opportunities and challenges in preparing and understanding the properties of this diverse class of materials characterized by 'dizzying complexity' have significant implications for myriad applications."

The MRSEC program is supported by the National Science Foundation.