Silicones are used in everything from sealants in your bathroom to breast implants. But their impact on the environment can be of a concern due their synthetic nature. But what if we could find a way to produce an organic silicone? Professor Michael A. Brook, of McMaster University, will present a special lecture on just this topic as part of Pittsburg State University's Distinguished Polymer Lecture Series.
Mike Brook is a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. He received a B.Sc. with Honours from the University of Toronto in 1978, and a Ph.D. from McGill University in 1983 where he worked in the group of Tak Hang (Bill) Chan, and then did a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich from 1984 to 1985 with Dieter Seebach.
Brook is an expert in silicon, silica and silicone chemistry. He wrote the solely authored book Silicon in Organic, Organometallic and Polymer Chemistry (Wiley) in 2000 and was Americas editor of Silicon Chemistry.
Dr. Brook's lecture, "The Greening of Silicones: Exploiting Natural Materials," will provide audiences with a better understanding of how his team is approaching the challenge of producing silicon-carbon bonds through the use of natural materials. A detailed description is below:
Silicones are widely used in developed economies, in applications from sealants in your bathroom to breast implants. They have many attractive features. However, they are completely synthetic – there are no compelling reports of organic silicon-carbon bonds being produced in nature. The high energetic (upstream) process required for silane preparation prevents silicones from being considered green materials. One strategy to mitigate the environmental burden of silicones and, at the same time, broaden the range of properties they can attain, would involve the incorporation of natural materials (Scheme). The synthesis of composite materials requires control over the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interface. We have approached this challenge by utilizing both physical and covalent modification of the natural materials. Permanent chemical anchoring using click chemistry leads to surface-active silicones. An attractive alternative utilizes temporary grafting via a transesterification with boronic acids; the resulting silicones are also water dispersible. However, the Piers-Rubinsztajn (PR) reaction proved particularly amenable to phenolic natural materials. Thus, random modification of lignin, or its derivative eugenol led to either silicones foams or elastomers. The benefits and detriments of these and related synthetic strategies will be explored.