Students in my group explore new chemistry related to homogeneous catalysis, ligand synthesis, polymer surface modification and surface synthesis and analysis. In the case of catalysis and ligand chemistry, ongoing projects include: syntheses of "smart", recoverable, reusable homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts, combinatorial chemistry, the design of new asymmetric catalysts and the development of new synthetic methods. In this chemistry, we are inventing new ways to combine the features of polymers or oligomers with known homogeneous catalysts and known ligands. These experiments do not address typical applications of polymer chemistry. Instead, they are directed to efforts combine the physiochemical properties of a polymer with the reactivity of a low molecular weight compound. This work involves fundamental research both in synthesis and catalysis, and it has received significant attention as an example of "Green" chemistry both at national and international conferences and in industry because of its relevance to practical problems. Future work in this area will include development of new, stabler reactive catalyts, studies of new combinatorial approaches to assay catalytic activity and studies of polymer-metal ligation relevant both to catalysis and to recovery of toxic trace metals. Our interests in surface chemistry combine our interests in macromolecular chemistry with our background in physical organic and synthetic chemistry. This chemistry focuses on the synthesis, modification and characterization of functionalized surfaces. Our aim here is to invent new synthetic and analytical procedures to control and to assay the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional character of such interfaces. We recently developed a new graft strategy (hyperbranched grafting) that multiplies the number of functional groups at surfaces through synthesis. It is a forgiving synthetic route that compensates for incomplete reactions that otherwise frustrate multistep synthesis at a surface. We are now studying ways to use these surfaces in synthesis and catalysis. For example, we recently described chemistry where we were able to use polyvalent hydrogen bonding as a reversible way to modify a common plastic. We hope to extend this work to make new sorts of nanocomposites at surfaces and to use this chemistry to prepare regenerable catalysts immobilized in ultrathin films or in nanocapsules.
Students who join my group develop skills in organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry. Their multidisciplinary projects include a wider exposure to analytical techniques than is the case in a more conventional organic research program. Each project emphasizes the opportunities for independent creative participation by graduate students and provides students with a diverse background for their later industrial or academic careers.
The use of soluble polymers to recover, reuse and recycle catalysts or to facilitate separations in a mixture of solvents that exhibit temperature dependent miscibility (thermomorphic behavior).
"Specific Ion Effects on the Water Solubility of Macromolecules", Zhang, Y.; Furyk, S.; Bergbreiter, D. E.; Cremer, P. S. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 14505-14511
"Liquid/Liquid Separation of Polysiloxane-Supported Catalysts", Grunlan, M. A.; Regan, K. R.; Bergbreiter, D. E. Chem. Commun. 2006, 1715-1717.
"Polyisobutylene Supports - a non-Polar Hydrocarbon Analog of PEG Supports", Li, J.; Sung, S.; Tian, J.; Bergbreiter, D. E. Tetrahedron, 2005, 61, 12081-12092.
"Mechanistic studies of SCS-Pd complexes used in Heck catalysis," Bergbreiter, D. E.; Osburn, P. L.; Frels, J. D. Adv. Syn. Cat. 2005, 347, 172-184.
"New Syntheses of Hyperbranched Polyamine Grafts," Bergbreiter, D. E.; Kippenberger, A. M.; Lackowski, W. M. Macromolecules 2005, 38, 47-52.
"Applications of catalysts on soluble supports," Bergbreiter, D. E. Top. Curr. Chem. 2004, 242, 113-176.
"High-Throughput Studies of the Effects of Polymer Structure and Solution Components on the Phase Separation of Thermoresponsive Polymers," Mao, H.; Li, C.; Zhang, Y.; Furyk, S.; Cremer, P. S.; Bergbreiter, D. E. Macromolecules 2004, 37, 1031-1036.