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Pesky Polymers

Dr. Sampa Maiti posing in a lab while wearing a lab coat and equipmentRecent SAM (Science of Advanced Materials) graduate Dr. Sampa Maiti has published her research in the prestigious chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

Her paper, “From Glucose to Polymers: A Continuous Chemoenzymatic Process" was in collaboration with advisor Dr. Wenjun Du, and others. The research focuses on ways to address the many challenges associated with producing degradable polymers from renewable resources. Polymers play vital roles in our daily lives (such as plastics, nylon, and Teflon), but there are environmental (contaminations of water bodies with microplastics), economic concerns (cost of decontamination sites) that deter their use. Dr. Maiti and her collaborators designed a simplified enzymatic reaction that allows the naturally occurring sugar molecule glucose to be used as a polymer rather than petroleum-based polymers. Dr. Maiti’s interest in the sugar orthoester linkage prompted her to develop a three-step process that eliminates the need for chromatographic purification. Dr. Maiti and her team conclude that their simplified enzymatic sugar system may be effective in addressing the many issues associated with current petroleum-based polymers. 

At CMU We Do Research, We Do Real World

Story by ORGS Intern Hailey Nelson

September 2020