Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Ke Min receives a Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Student Scholarship for research in green chemistry
Ke Min, a Ph.D. student in Kris Matyjaszewski’s group, has been selected as a recipient of the esteemed Kenneth G. Hancock Scholarship Award for her work in green chemistry. The scholarship will be presented to Min at the 2006 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. on June 26.
Min’s work focuses on development of a two-stage ab-initio emulsion atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), a method that reduces the volume of toxic waste products associated with the popular ATRP technique while allowing the process to be conducted in commercially available large scale equipment. In ATRP, a special catalyst slowly adds chemical units to the end of a growing polymer chain. ATRP has led to the synthesis of a diverse array of precisely architectured polymers for low VOC paint coatings, surgical implants, and other materials. The widespread applicability of this technique for tailored polymer synthesis has resulted in research aimed at making ATRP “greener,” or safer to use in large-scale industrial settings.
Min’s new emulsion technique initially disperses all the chemicals required for the reaction in a nano-suspension then adds pure monomers in a second step. This reduces catalyst levels and by-product formation. She adjusted both the solid and liquid components of ATRP to very acceptable levels, making this technique extremely suitable for environment-friendly industrial use.
The scholarship honors one of the earliest proponents of green chemistry, the late Kenneth G. Hancock. Dr. Hancock was a pioneer in chemistry focused on the well-being of the environment in the contexts of remediation and prevention of imminent environmental problems. The award provides both funding and national recognition for exceptional contributions to the rapidly growing field of green chemistry.
Ke Min’s accomplishment continues to magnify the merits of green chemistry at Carnegie Mellon. In 1998, Terry Collins and his group received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for their innovative iron-based “green oxidation” activators with potential to break down many types of environmental pollutants. In 2002, Traian Sarbu of Carnegie Mellon shared the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award with Eric Beckman of the University of Pittsburgh for their development of carbon dioxide additives to furnish a cleaner solvent used for dry cleaning.
Nicolay V. Tsarevsky, who is also in Matyjaszewski’s group, won the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Scholarship in Green Chemistry in June 2003 for Preparation of Well Defined (Co)Polymers by ATRP in Aqueous Media. In June 2005, Anindya Ghosh, an MCS alumnus and former member of the Collins group won the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Scholarship in Green Chemistry for his work with Fe-TAML activators, catalysts that eliminate pollutants in water, air, and soil contamination.
Min also recently completed an eight-week summer internship at Bayer Materials Science as part of the Bayer Fellowship program with the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
By: Matthew Bittel