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The Polymer Reaction Design group is focused on the tailor-made synthesis of functional polymers for the delivery of specialized materials. Within the group, established procedures such as controlled radical polymerization or modern polymer conjugation techniques are combined to aim at polymers with highest structural precision. To support this activity, new control methods for polymerization processes are constantly developed and underpinned with kinetic studies to reach a better understanding of the reactions and to refine existing methods.

Homopolymers or block copolymers with defined molecular weight, composition, end-group functionality and dispersity are synthesized. From multifunctional initiators and control agents, also materials with complex microstructures, e.g. star, graft or brush polymers are accessible. In cooperation with the Design & Synthesis of Organic Semiconductors group (DSOS), control pathways for the synthesis of PPV polymers are explored to facilitate easy access to highly functional conjugate polymers for the preparation of block copolymers.

Another strand in research is based on efficient conjugation methods for the assembly of polymer building blocks, also often referred to as Click chemistry. New efficient conjugation pathways are explored and applied to various polymer systems to create materials with unique physical properties. In cooperation with the Biomolecule Design group (BDG) polymer building blocks with specific linker moieties are synthesized on demand for coupling to biological active substrates to obtain hybrid materials.

Other core competences of the group are the precise characterization of polymer materials via size exclusion chromatography techniques, modern soft-ionization mass spectrometry methods or generally by spectroscopic means. Another important area of research is the elucidation of polymerization mechanisms and the study of radical polymerization kinetics, which are followed via online spectroscopic methods or pulsed-laser polymerization techniques to determine the key kinetic rate coefficients. Such kinetic information is then used to model the full polymerization reaction cascade via the software package Predici® in order to obtain a complete picture over the processes and to aid in the design of new synthesis strategies. Kinetic modeling studies can also be carried out for external partners and are offered upon request.