Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry


This project will develop experimental and computational procedures for understanding the structure of nanoporous polymers (NPs) for use in applications that exploit their surface chemistry (e.g., gas storage, molecular separations, sensors and catalysis) and hence it will generate a sufficient knowledge base to develop polymer-based porous materials with controlled properties at the nano and macroscopic scales. The work will integrate the interrelated, but distinct, areas of expertise of two research groups from the United States (Colina and Runt, Penn State University) and three research groups from the United Kingdom (Budd and Siperstein, University of Manchester; McKeown, Cardiff University) to train graduate and undergraduate students in modern methods of experimentation, equation-of-state model development and molecular simulation, in a global environment. The proposed research includes (a) synthesis and characterization of NPs, including X-ray characterization of the microporous structure and evolution of the microporous environment when different molecules are adsorbed, and (b) modeling fluid/polymeric properties at molecular and macroscopic scales, to understand their structure, morphology, and properties. The intellectual merit of this proposal is its novel approach for the design of functional porous materials, guiding the synthesis of monomers and polymers by appropriate structure/property relations obtained from a fundamental understanding of selected experiments to characterize the materials, together with simulations to model their properties. Eventually, this approach should also be applicable to other materials, such as hypercrosslinked polymers or metal coordination polymers, where rigid nanoporosity overlaps with swelling behavior, as currently there is no single approach that can simultaneously describe the surface chemistry, nanoporosity and swelling of such materials.


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Description Both experimental and computational procedures have been developed for understanding the structure of organic nanoporous materials. New polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) have been prepared with improved performance for molecular separations such as carbon dioxide capture, both by novel polymerization methods (Ind. & Eng. Chem. Res., 2013, 52, 16939) and by chemical modification of precursor polymers (Macromolecules ,2011, 44, 6471; 2014, 47, 1021). Computational methods have indicated further promising polymer structures (Macromolecules, 2013, 46, 5371). X-ray scattering techniques, combined with computational studies, have given new insights into the porosity of PIMs (Macromolecules, 2011, 44, 14) and how it may change over time (J. Mater. Chem. A, 2014, 2, 11742). A new range of small molecules have been developed that exhibit molecular-scale porosity in the solid state (organic molecules of intrinsic microporosity, OMIMs), (J. Mater. Chem. A., 2013, 1, 11950; J. Phys. Chem. B, 2013, 117, 355; Org. Lett. 2014, 16, 1848).
Exploitation Route The University of Manchester holds intellectual property in relation to polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), and UMIP is its agent for commercialisation. The first commercial product utilising a PIM is a 3M end-of-life indicator for respirator cartridges.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description This research has contributed indirectly to our efforts to develop commercial applications of polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs). The first commercial product utilising a PIM, under license from the University of Manchester, is a 3M service life indicator for organic vapour cartridges, used in personal protection.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Chemicals
Impact Types Economic