Dr. Junfeng Chen
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of California – Santa Barbara
Innovations of precise macromolecules: catalysis, high throughput, and bio-applications
Proteins contain discrete primary sequences that lead to defined chemical structures through precise supramolecular folding and assembly. In contrast, synthetic macromolecular materials are typically polydisperse with a random sequence and with poorly defined structures. Achieving better control of polymer structures offers a unique opportunity to better understand the structure-activity relationship of the materials and enable new applications. In this talk, we will see how folded single-chain polymer nanoparticles can have similar functions to protein scaffolds in developing artificial enzymes. In addition, I will discuss multiple strategies to prepare precise macromolecules, including a high throughput method to develop libraries of discrete oligomers, and how these lead to novel and safer biomaterials. These results underscore the versatile impact that the polymer structure can have on the design and functions of materials, especially in biological applications.
Junfeng Chen obtained his Ph.D. in materials chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2020, where he worked for Prof. Steven Zimmerman on developing polymer-based nanoparticles as artificial enzymes to achieve efficient catalysis under biological conditions. Then, he moved to Craig Hawker’s group in the Materials Research Lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and he is currently working on developing high throughput ways to generate precise and discrete oligomer materials.