Civilization is forever dependent upon synthetic polymers (i.e. 'plastics') for the foreseeable future. Truth is, very little plastic waste is recycled, biodegradation is very slow, and the original raw materials and energy consumed in production are not recouped. Further, the chemical industry is deeply entrenched, and there are few classes of monomers that can be used for the commercially-viable production of synthetic polymers on the commodity volume scale
The Sita Group pursues the development of new molecular organometallic catalysts and polymerization processes that can produce the next generation of synthetic polymers in a highly efficient, versatile and scalable fashion from existing inexpensive and abundant monomer feedstocks. Polyolefins comprise the largest component of synthetic polymers, and accordingly, the largest component of plastic waste. Our goal is to 'reimagine' how polyolefins can be produced from the same monomers but with different structures, stereochemical tacticity, and with new types of chemical functionality and physical properties. Our ultimate objective is the design, development, and production of next generation polyolefins that are more amenable to recycle and upcycle and that have a greatly reduced negative environmental and energy impact.
The Sita Group has pioneered a class of transition metal complexes and unique processes that can be used for the 'living' polymerization of a wide variety of alpha-olefins to produce an infinite variety of new fundamental forms of polyolefins in highly efficient, versatile, and scalable fashion to provide practical quantities - from grams to kilograms to kilotons as desired. We have established a 'one catalyst - many materials' paradigm that permits wide tunability of polyolefin structure, stereochemical tacticity, degree of polymerization, and molecular weight distribution by controlling external reaction variables, rather than having to synthesize and screen large libraries of catalyst derivatives for each new material. Our successful, well proven approach allows us to productively focus on the design and investigation of next generation polyolefins with unprecedented structures and properties and as the basis for new science, applications, and technologies
A unique feature of our LCCTP process is the ability to produce scalable quantities of end-group functionalized polyolefins (x-PAOs) as a fundamental new class of hydrophobic building block with tunable occupied free volumes, and including those that are optically active. By coupling x-PAO 'tails' with functional molecular 'head' groups, a wide variety of canonical and non-canonical condensed phase nanostructures can be accessed in both the bulk and within ultrathin films. The Sita Group is pursuing the design, characterization, and utilization of these nanostructured polyolefin conjugates in key technologies, such as organic solar cells and photon upconversion. Soft matter Frank-Kasper phases are also being explored within the contexts of Systems Chemistry and the origins of life.
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