Organic Chemistry Seminar
Will Dichtel was born in Houston, Texas, but was raised in Roanoke, Virginia, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Will was an undergraduate student at MIT, where he majored in chemistry and gained his first research experience working in the laboratory of Prof. Tim Swager. He then moved to UC-Berkeley for graduate school, where he earned his Ph.D. for investigating light harvesting macromolecules under the supervision of Prof. Jean M. J. Fréchet. He next moved to Los Angeles for a joint postdoctoral appointment with Prof. Fraser Stoddart, then at UCLA, and Prof. Jim Heath, then at Caltech. There his research focused on developing efficient strategies for the synthesis of mechanically interlocked compounds and incorporating these molecules onto surfaces and into solid-state devices. Prof. Dichtel began his independent career in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University in 2008 and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2014. He moved to Northwestern University in the summer of 2016 as the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry. In 2016, he co-founded the startup company, CycloPure, to commercialize his group's discovery of porous cyclodextrin-containing materials for water purification. Dichtel's research has been recognized with a number of national awards, including Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award from the North Jersey Section of the ACS, the National Fresenius Award from the Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemistry Honor Society. Will is an avid open-water swimmer and enjoys travel and the outdoors.
Polymerizing monomers into periodic two-dimensional (2D) networks provides structurally precise, layered macromolecular sheets linked by robust, covalent bonds. These materials exhibit desirable mechanical, optoelectrotronic, and molecular transport properties derived from their designed structure and permanent porosity. 2D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) offer broad monomer scope but are generally isolated as insoluble powders comprised of aggregated nanometer-scale crystallites. I will present how a mechanistic investigation of 2D COF formation has led to improved control in their synthesis, along with intriguing possibilities that have emerged in related materials systems derived from molecular assemblies.