Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Madalyn Radlauer; David Brook ; Gilles Muller


Catalysis is one of the driving forces in designing greener chemical processes for essential real-world applications. Enzymes, Nature’s catalysts, are known for their high selectivity, use of readily available metals and reagents, and ability to work under physiological conditions; three important qualities that synthetic chemists would like to mimic in their small molecule metal catalysts. Though most small molecule metal catalysts fall short of enzyme-like activity, we hypothesize that using a polymer scaffold as a secondary coordination sphere mimic around the metal complex will affect the microenvironment (steric and electronic) and enable enzyme-like activity. Previously, we synthesized ligand precursors and small molecule copper complexes based on literature as well as vinyl-modified versions for direct incorporation into a polymer. My research project involved further characterizing our copper complexes using UV-vis spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction studies and conducting benchmarking studies based on literature procedures. Our first proof-of-concept oxidation reaction mimics the activity of the enzyme catechol oxidase: converting 3,5-di-tert-butylcatechol to the corresponding quinone. We are using the analogous small molecule catalysts to benchmark this reaction as points of comparison for the target metallopolymers.

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