Organic Chemistry

Thor Balkhed

We design and synthesize conjugated polymers that incorporate functional groups, to tailor their interactions with external stimuli, foreign materials and biological systems.

Many dyes in nature, for example β-carotene in carrots or chlorophyll in leaves, are very colorful substances because their chemical design consists of alternating single and double bonds. In conjugated polymers, this single-double bond pattern is used to take advantage of the interaction that these materials have with photons and electrons. This feature enables their use in technological applications such as solar cells, light-emitting diodes, transistors, and batteries.

Because conjugated polymers are synthetic materials, their chemical design and therefore any material property can be infinitely tailored. In our group, we investigate how the incorporation of functional groups into conjugated polymers can be used to add another layer of functionality to these materials and their concomitant electronic devices.

For example, conjugated polymers can be strengthened with physical crosslinks for use in free-standing architectures, or the interactions of conjugated polymers with synthetic (commodity plastics, small molecules) and biological (wood-based products, cells) matter can be altered.

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