Our group has had a long-term interest in the use of shape persistent rigid monomers to build complex polymers with intrinsically porous structures. The star structure in this effort is triptycene, which we introduced to provide porous structures for molecules to diffuse into materials and to create low density materials. The most important aspect of these structures is that the pores are defined at a molecular level and the materials are durable. In fact, we developed porous materials that have glass transitions over 400°C and were thermally stable to even higher temperatures. Triptycene and related structures pervade much of our group’s activities in sensors, high strength materials, and dynamic systems.
Building on our schemes, a number of groups around the world have been making gas separation materials that have record performance. As a result, we have decided we should try some of our materials in this application and have started a collaboration with one of the leading groups in the world of gas separations, headed by Professor Zachary Smith in MIT Chem. Engr. We have found that our porous polymer materials, such as the one shown, have exceptional resistance to plasticization by CO2, which can cause the materials to relax and lose their porous structures. We expect many more exciting results with this new collaboration.
A highly porous polymer synthesized in our group with a surface area >800 m/g that has exceptional performance as a gas separation membrane.