Carnegie Mellon University

Image of Krzysztof Matyjaszewski

October 15, 2018

Matyjaszewski Wins ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials

By Jocelyn Duffy

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Mellon College of Science
  • 412-268-9982

Carnegie Mellon University chemist Krzysztof Matyjaszewski has been named the recipient of the 2019 American Chemical Society Award in the Chemistry of Materials, sponsored by DuPont.

The award recognizes creative work and outstanding contributions in the chemistry of materials, with particular emphasis on research related to materials that have actual or potential technological importance.

"Kris' contributions have profoundly impacted various fields of materials chemistry, including nanostructured carbons, bioconjugates and organic-inorganic hybrids prepared under environmentally benign conditions that could be controlled by external stimuli," said Jeffrey Pyun, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Arizona. Pyun, who earned his doctoral degree from the Mellon College of Science's Department of Chemistry, nominated Matyjaszewski for the award.

Matyjaszewski is best known for his discovery of atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), a novel method of polymer synthesis that has revolutionized the way macromolecules are made. ATRP allows scientists to easily form polymers by putting together monomers in a piece-by-piece fashion. This controlled method of polymerization has allowed scientists to create a wide range of materials with highly specific, tailored functionalities and has led the way for the production of "smart" materials.

"In the mid 1990s, Kris' group demonstrated a "holy grail" in the field of polymer chemistry, which was a controlled/living radical polymerization of a diverse range of commercially available monomers," Pyun said. "His invention of atom transfer radical polymerization has led to a profound change in the way that polymeric materials have been prepared and resulted in myriads of (co)polymers with precisely controlled architecture, including novel block copolymers[1] with proteins and nucleic acids, molecular bottlebrushes as supersoft elastomers, hairy nanoparticles, or intelligent surfaces."

Matyjaszewski's research group has continued to develop ATRP since its discovery in 1994, improving the technique and extending its use to many applications in the automotive, building materials, medical, energy and environmental fields. In 2001, he founded the CRP Consortium to expedite the transfer of controlled radical polymerization techniques to industry.

Matyjaszewski, who is the J.C. Warner University Professor of Natural Sciences, will be honored at an awards ceremony on April 2, 2019, during the 257th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Orlando.