Barry L. MacLean Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise
Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
University of Chicago
Investigations into Nanocellulose and their Composites
Nanocelluloses, such as cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulose nanofibers (CNFs), have attracted attention in recent years as potential green nanomaterials. CNCs, for example, are highly crystalline nanofibers that can be isolated from a variety of renewable biosources, including cotton, sisal, wood, and sea tunicates. The diameters range from 5 to 30 nm and the lengths range from 100 nm to several micrometers depending on the biosource and method of isolation. CNCs offer several advantages as a nanomaterial, including biosustainability, biorenewability, facile functionalization, and relatively low production cost. In addition to a high surface area, they have low density, low coefficient of thermal expansion, and a high elastic modulus (of about 80-150 GPa depending on the biosource). The Rowan Group has been investigating the use of functionalized CNCs to access new classes of adaptive composites and nano-emulsions and latexes. They have also investigated new possible sources for CNCs and have targeted the large, perennial grass hybrid Miscanthus Giganteus, which is a commercial crop currently used for energy production, as a new potential commercially-viable source of cellulose nanomaterials. Their latest results in this area will be discussed.
Stuart J. Rowan has served as the Barry L. MacLean Professor of Molecular Engineering and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago since 2016. He received his BSc (Hons.) in Chemistry in 1991 from the University of Glasgow and stayed there for graduate school in the laboratory of David D. MacNicol, receiving his PhD in 1995. In 1994, he moved to the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge to work with Jeremy K. M. Sanders. He moved across the Atlantic (and the continental U.S.) to continue his postdoctoral studies with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998. He was appointed in 1999 as an Assistant Professor to the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2005, and became a Full Professor in 2008. He is a NSF CAREER awardee, received the Morley Medal (ACS) in 2013, the CWRU Distinguished University Award in 2015, and the Herman Mark Scholar Award (ACS) in 2015. He is an ACS Fellow, an ACS POLY Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is Editor-in-Chief of ACS Macro Letters, and on the editorial advisory boards of Chemical Science, ACS Applied Polymer Materials, and J. Macromolecular Sci, Pure & Applied Chem. His research interests include investing the use of dynamic chemistry (covalent and non-covalent) in the construction and properties of structurally dynamic and adaptive polymeric materials. His group works on supramolecular polymers, self-healing materials, active/responsive adhesives, stimuli-responsive material and nanocomposites, metal-containing polymers, gels, biomaterials, and developing new synthetic methods for the construction of complex polymeric architectures.