|Dr. Amy M. Balija
Office: 534 JMH
Phone: (718) 817-4438
Fax: (718) 817-4432
BS Chemistry, Loyola University Chicago
PhD Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Utah
Adjunct Professor, New Jersey City University
Visiting Assistant Professor, Fordham University
The overall theme of our group is macromolecular structure. A good part of our work requires the design and synthesis of macromolecules containing different functional groups. But we are not satisfied at just preparing large molecules. Rather, we want to understand the fundamental properties of these systems. Thus, we will employ physical organic and analytical methods to study our macromolecules. By using this approach, we will gain an understanding of what factors dictate macromolecular structure. These insights will allow us to synthesize macromolecules with improved properties for use in biological and material science applications.
Currently, our work focuses on two major areas:
1. Dendrimers as Templates for Physical Organic Studies
2. Novel Synthetic Pathways to Prepare Macromolecules
Dendrimers as Templates for Physical Organic Studies
Dendrimers are highly ordered, tree-like polymers. These macromolecules are monodisperse entities with a specific molecular weight, size, and composition. Although a single unit, dendrimers exist as a dynamic equilibrium of constitutional isomers due to the high degree of rotational freedom present within the molecule. This lack of rigidity limits the use of these macromolecules in advanced applications such as asymmetric catalysis and nanoscale devices. Our goal for this project is to understand how fundamental dendritic interactions within the molecule affect the overall conformational structure. In order to accomplish this, we are utilizing a variety of physical organic and analytical methods to examine how dendrimer composition impacts global structure. Ultimately, we will use our findings to develop novel dendrimers for biological and material applications.
Novel Synthetic Pathways to Prepare Macromolecules
Dendrimers are prepared through a stepwise synthetic sequence from a central core molecule and ABn (n=2,3) monomers. Many dendritic syntheses involve multistep organic pathways for which the intermediates must be rigorously purified and characterized. This purification process limits the number and size of macromolecules that undergraduate researchers can prepare within the timeframe of an academic year. Therefore, we are developing new approaches to synthesize dendrimers that require little to no purification by column chromatography. We will use a systematic approach to examine how varying reaction conditions and experimental techniques influence the formation of new macromolecules. In the future, we will use our results to develop “green” dendrimers that can be prepared efficiently and without generating large amounts of waste.