05/11/17 - 9:45 AM to 11:00 AM
Student Seminar Series: Professor Stephen A. Miller
Student Seminar Series
"Programming the Properties and Degradation of Sustainable Polymers"
Main-chain functionality is critical to polymeric thermal properties and degradation behavior. This presentation will introduce synthetic routes for incorporating various functional groups into the main-chain of linear polymers. Novel methodologies have been developed for preparing renewable polyesters, polycarbonates, polyoxalates, polyacetals, polysilicon acetals, and polylactam esters with prescribed thermal properties and degradation pathways. Additionally, this presentation will describe our efforts to employ vanillin, ferulic acid, and other bio-based aromatics for the synthesis of polymers for higher temperature applications. These various novel thermoplastics will be discussed in the context of replacing specific fossil fuel-based plastics.
In 1994, Stephen A. Miller received coterminal bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Stanford University, where Robert M. Waymouth served as his undergraduate and master’s thesis adviser. He then earned a doctorate in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1999 with John E. Bercaw, before conducting post-doctoral research with Nobel Laureate Richard R. Schrock at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during 2000–2001.
He held the position of assistant professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University from 2001 until 2007, when he accepted his current positions of associate professor of chemistry and member of the Butler Polymer Research Laboratory at the University of Florida.
His primary research efforts target the synthesis of biorenewable and degradable polymers that mimic petroleum-based plastics. Novel synthetic methodologies have been applied to a variety of biogenic feedstocks, including sugars, triglycerides, lignin, and C1 feedstocks, yielding linear thermoplastic polymers with the potential to replace incumbent packaging plastics. Moreover, these polymers are generally amenable to biodegradation or water-degradation, affording benign metabolites already present in nature. He is a co-founder and the chief technology officer of U.S. Bioplastics (http://usbioplastics.com/) and an alumnus of the Global Young Academy (http://globalyoungacademy.net).
- Miller, S. A. “Sustainable Polymers: Opportunities for the Next Decade” (Viewpoint), ACS Macro Lett. 2013, 2, 550–554. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/mz400207g
- Mialon, L.; Pemba, A. G.; Miller, S. A. “Biorenewable polyethylene terephthalate mimics derived from lignin and acetic acid” Green Chem. 2010, 12, 1704–1706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C0GC00150C
- Nguyen, H. T. H.; Reis, M. H.; Qi, P.; Miller, S. A. “Polyethylene ferulate (PEF) and congeners: polystyrene mimics derived from biorenewable aromatics” Green Chem. 2015, 17, 4512-4517. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c5gc01104c
Professor Miller's research group is focused on the synthesis and characterization of novel polymers. Two main research areas are explored. The synthesis of new polymers from readily available biorenewable feedstocks with the specific intent of mimicking commodity thermoplastics. Researcjers use chemical approaches to innovate new polymers, focusing on the origin (birth), properties (life), and degradation (death) of eco-friendly and sustainable materials. By incorporating less-studied functional groups into the polymer chain, novel polymer behaviors can be effected. For example, water-degradable polymers can be constructed that do not require the more stringent conditions of biodegradation. The second area is development of organometallic, single-site catalysts for the polymerization of olefins to polyolefins having novel structure and properties. The catalytic behavior of single-site catalysts can be precisely tuned to afford interesting and commercially promising materials from simple and inexpensive olefins. Researchers target syndiotactic polymers, branched-polyethylene, elastomeric polyolefins, and a variety of copolymers that can only be achieved with carefully engineered organometallic catalysts.