An ongoing interest in the group is to learn how to manipulate the individually weak, but collectively powerful, interactions between molecules as a mechanism for programming function in materials and devices. For example, we use well-defined molecular recognition events within polymer networks to create, with high precision, materials with desired mechanical properties. Because the material properties are determined by these very specific molecular recognition events, the materials are responsive to external stimuli in the same way as the defining molecules. Rather complex, but predictable, macroscopic responses can therefore be engineered at the molecular level.
In a second set of projects, we have created families of molecules that target non-traditional guests like noble gases and small anions. In this research, we use a variety of design and discovery strategies coupled that are easily coupled to accessible chemical synthesis methods. Ultimately, our goal is uncover the balance of subtle interactions that can lead to not only affinity, but selectivity, for a target of choice.