April 18, 2014 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
This presentation will provide examples of how enzyme-catalysis is creating important new opportunities in polymer chemistry and material sciences. One example is the use of lipases in polymerization reactions. Lipases, due to the mild temperatures at which they work, and their extraordinary selectivity, provide numerous benefits when synthesizing polyesters, polycarbonates and polyamides. A key benefit that will be discussed is how steric hindrance at the active site results in a high activation energy for crosslinking reactions. Therefore, one can polymerize multifunctional monomers while avoiding crosslinking without protection-deprotection steps. Whole cell biocatalysis is providing important new routes to biobased monomers from renewable feedstocks. Our laboratory has developed an engineered yeast strain that provides the first efficient bio-technological route to convert fatty acids to w-hydroxyfatty acids (w-HOFAs). In one example, an engineered Candida tropicalis strain used methyl tetradecanoic acid (methyl myristic acid, Me-C14:0) as a feedstock to produce 112 g/L w-hydroxyC14 (w-HOC14) in 55 hours (productivity 2 g/L·h). Examples of how w-HOFAs are being used to develop new bioplastics will be discussed. Finally, a newly developed chemo-enzymatic route to alternating oligopeptides that is much greener than the alternative solid-phase-polypeptide-synthetic (SPPS) method will be presented. One use of alternating oligopeptides is to promote self-assembly as components in polymeric materials.