Carnegie Mellon University chemist receives prestigious award at American Chemical Society Meeting

03/19/04

Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University polymer chemist Krzysztof Matyjaszewski has received the 2004 Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering from the American Chemical Society (ACS). Matyjaszewski, the J.C. Warner Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon, will receive the award in recognition of his productive and sustained collaborative endeavors in the field of controlled/living radical polymerization at the ACS annual meeting, held from March 28-April 1 in Anaheim, Calif.

The award, endowed by a gift from the Eastman Kodak Company and presented annually since 1992, will be given in conjunction with a special symposium in which participants from industry and academia highlight research resulting from Matyjaszewski's impressive contributions to the field of polymer chemistry.

Matyjaszewski, who directs the Center for Macromolecular Engineering at the Mellon College of Science, is renowned for developing atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). ATRP is a controlled living polymerization process that differs from conventional methods to make polymers, in which it's difficult to control the composition and architecture of the resulting compound. With ATRP, a complex polymer structure is made by adding one monomer at a time to a slowly growing polymer chain by interaction of the growing chain end with a special catalyst, including hybrid catalysts with low levels of metals in solution. Monomers are added to the chain end one unit at a time. The process can also be shut down or re-started at will, depending on how the temperature and other conditions are varied. This methodology allows precise control over the composition and architecture of the many structures they can create.

ATRP could be used to develop a diverse range of materials, including durable but scratch-resistant paint coatings, drug delivery implants, breathable contacts, carbon nanotube-forming matrices and toxin-neutralizing systems for use in environmental settings.

Matyjaszewski's groundbreaking paper on ATRP, first published in 1995, has spawned considerable industrial and academic research in this field of controlled polymerization and has been cited more than 900 times, making him among the world's most highly cited chemists. In a list of the top 100 scientists compiled in 2003 by Essential Science Indicators, Matyjaszewski ranked 16th among all fields of chemistry.

Much of the research progress and commercial success related to ATRP is due to two research consortia initiated and led by Matyjaszewski. The current consortium, built on the first ATRP consortium founded in 1995 with 11 international industrial organizations, interacts with 21 industrial companies from around the world interested in creating novel polymeric materials for their markets. Some of these corporations have licensed ATRP technology and started commercial production. This consortium aims to explore the polymer science underlying their targeted activities, and to train both university and industrial scientists in procedures for responsive polymeric material development.

An elected fellow of the ACS Division of Polymeric Materials, Science and Engineering, Matyjaszewski also has received the 1989 Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 1995 ACS Creative Polymer Chemistry Award, the 1999 Humboldt Award for U.S. Senior Scientists, the 2001 ACS Pittsburgh Award and the 2002 ACS Polymer Chemistry Award.

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