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Chiral nanomaterials

There is significant interest in the development of new synthetic strategies that can mimic the high efficiency, selectivity and activity in aqueous media of natural processes such as enzymes. Enzymes are Natures’ own catalysts and are used to accelerate chemical reactions. The unique morphology of enzymes, which consists of a confined specific hydrophobic pocket in which catalysis occurs, allows for the synthesis of selective products such as chiral or optically active molecules. The synthesis of chiral molecules is of significant interest as many naturally occurring chiral molecules have found application as drugs. Most natural macromolecules, such as amino acids, are chiral and Nature uses this chirality to facilitate selectivity in enzyme catalysis. In this work we propose using natural amino acids as building blocks for the synthesis of polymeric templates which can assemble in aqueous media into Natural-like functional morphologies. It is proposed that catalysts can be readily incorporated within the hydrophobic core of these scaffolds to allow for selective reactions in which control over the composition and nature of products is achieved. We also are interested in the utilisation of these functional chiral nanostructures as catalytic nanoreactors.


Selected publications

Preparation of chiral amino acid materials and the study of their interactions with 1'1-bi-2-naphthol, B.L. Moore and R.K. O'Reilly, J. Polym. Sci. Part A, 2012, 50, 3567-3574. DOI: 10.1002/pola.26141

Synthesis of chiral micelles and nanoparticles from amino acid based monomers using RAFT polymerization, J. Skey, R.K. O’Reilly, J. Polym. Sci. Part A, Polym. Chem., 2008, 46, 3690-3702. DOI: 10.1002/pola.22710


Functional and tuneable amino acid polymers prepared by RAFT polymerization, A. C. Evans, J. Skey, M. Wright, W. Qu, C. Ondeck, D. A. Longbottom, R. K. O’Reilly, J. Polym. Sci. Part A, Polym. Chem., 2009, 47, 6814-6826. DOI: 10.1002/pola.23721


Stabilization of amino acid derived diblock copolymer micelles through favorable D:L side chain interactions, J. Skey, C.F. Hansell, R. K. O’Reilly, Macromolecules, 2010, 43, 1309-1318. DOI: 10.1021/ma902356u


Synthesis and self-assembly of amphiphilic chiral poly(amino acid) star polymers, J. Skey, H. Willcock, M. Lammens, F. du Prez, R.K. O'Reilly, Macromolecules, 2010, 43, 5949-5955. DOI: 10.1021/ma101019g


Organocatalytic Tuneable Amino Acid Polymers Prepared by Controlled Radical Polymerization, A.C. Evans, A. Lu, C. Ondeck, D.A. Longbottom, R.K. O'Reilly, Macromolecules, 2010, 43, 6374-6380. DOI: 10.1021/ma1008447