Erin E. Stache
Reaction Development for Sustainable Polymer Chemistry
Plastics have enabled our modern society; yet lack of efficient recycling strategies have led to a build-up of waste in our environment. We look to develop synthetic tools and strategies for mitigating plastic waste. This talk will demonstrate selective C–H abstraction can be used for photooxidative degradation of commodity polymers for chemical upcycling. Catalyst-controlled photooxidation affords a precision of reactivity not amenable to other strategies. This talk will also discuss new opportunities in controlled radical polymerizations for synthesis of inherently degradable polymers with a cyclic polymer life cycle. Using our understanding of radical reactivity, we have leveraged copolymerizations of commodity monomers to access degradable materials. Finally, we aim to use visible light irradiation for chemical recycling to monomer of commodity polymers. Photothermal catalysis enables temporal heating for generating and confining highly reactive intermediates for selective C–C bond cleavages. This strategy enables selective and iterative depolymerization of commodity polymers not possible with bulk heating.