Highly Fluorinated Polyphenylenes. Since 2005, our group has developed a clean, modular synthetic approach to semi-rigid polyphenylenes with very high fluorine content. Our work in this area is organized according to the following five main themes:
- Novel monomer chemistry based on a long track record of innovation in fluoroaromatic chemistry,
- Irreversible propagation chemistry based on Diels-Alder and electrocyclic CO extrusion reactions (Stille-Muellen Reaction),
- Modular, tunable functionality using established reactivity patterns in fluoroaromatic systems,
- Exceptional physical properties based on the thermal stability and chemical resistance afforded by fluorine, and
- Useful applications that span gas separation membranes, fuel cell PEMs, coatings, and dielectric resins.
Unique Chemistry. The diagram below shows just one example of how our synthetic chemistry enables us to explore the structural parameter space of these polyphenylenes by a systematic, modular approach. Three distinct systems are under investigation in our laboratories now, including a system designed to produce an exceptionally highly fluorinated polyphenylene shown in cartoon form at the top of this page.
Other Research Areas
Since 1995, our group has been involved in the following research areas. At present, all of these areas are secondary to our effort in fluoropolymers, and their activity levels depending on the interests of the students who join our group. All of the projects center around fluoroaromatic chemistry and especially fluoroarylated cyclopentadiene chemistry as unifying themes.
- Super-strong carbon acids
- Metallocene olefin polymerization catalysts
- CF-activation reactions
- Ferrocene-containing condensation polymers
- Oxidatively stabilized metallocenes
What we do. All of our undergraduate research projects deal with fluoroaromatic chemistry and cyclopentadiene chemistry. We explore the synthesis and reactions of fluorinated organic molecules, including polymers. The extreme electronegativity of fluorine and the unusual stability of C-F bonds can impart interesting properties. We expect to find applications for our work in materials science (stable films and coatings), alternative energy (fuel cell development), and possibly medicine (drug delivery).
Prerequisites. You do not have to be a chemistry major to do undergraduate chemistry research. And yes, you can get involved even in your first year. Some of our best undergraduate students started as freshmen. There are no course prerequisites for research in our group -- you will get your training "on the job." However you are expected to demonstrate a high level of professionalism, a strong ability to learn new ideas and skills, and considerable self-motivation. Professionalism includes maintaining excellent grades in your classes. You will be interviewed to determine whether research in our group is a good "fit" for you.
Our graduates. Students in our group have gone on to graduate programs at Stanford, Ohio State, U of Pittsburgh, U of Chicago, Boston U, Texas A&M, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Colorado State, UC Irvine, Rice University, and Columbia. Two others went to medical school, and they both now have MDs. One additional undergraduate student entered the industrial sector as a chemist in the Baltimore area and has been successful there.
Your role in our research. Any student who joins our group will be a full member of the research team, and that includes publishing. Numerous of my students over the past several years have been co-authors on papers appearing in prestigious chemistry journals. Any student who loves chemistry, who enjoys being on a steep "learning curve," and who wants the chance to make a permanent, published contribution to the field should contact Prof. Deck to discuss opportunities.