The Mehrkhodavandi research program uses the power of catalysis to address environmental challenges by performing both fundamental and applied studies. They focus on “green” polymers that are either derived from biorenewable sources and/or are biodegradable in composts, in the oceans, or in the human body. These materials are an increasingly important solution to pollution problems and have found applications in materials, medicine, and agriculture.
Our research interests lie mainly in two different areas: 1) Catalyst development, with a special focus on control of structure function relationship, and 2) Synthesis and characterization of new families of bio-based / biodegradable / green polymers. In the major thrust of the research program, we are developing Lewis acidic metal centres supported by chiral ligands for the enantioselective and controlled ring opening polymerization of cyclic lactones, ethers, and epoxides. In addition to polymerization, we are interested in using chiral indium complexes as catalysts in myriad organic transformations.
We will be addressing these challenges with an interdisciplinary approach. Catalyst design and application will be at the heart of a program that will span organic, inorganic, organometallic, and polymer chemistry. Students will get a chance to gain synthetic skills such as manipulation of air/oxygen sensitive materials, become familiar with analytical and characterization techniques such as chromatography and NMR spectroscopy, and get an introduction to enantioselective methodology and mechanistic investigation.