Functional Macromolecules Group
Did you know that polymers can mimic functions displayed by natural macromolecules?
In nature, DNA and proteins with well-ordered structural skeletons can be recognized as sequence-defined macromolecules. DNA, composed of A, T, C, G nucleotides, is a natural polymer of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions. All essential informations to generate sequential protein chains from amino acids, by transcription and translation process, are encoded in the DNA sequence. Subsequently, the amino acid sequence determines three-dimensional structure of the protein and decides about their functions.
The synthesis of uniform macromolecules with defined monomer sequence, as displayed by natural polymers, is a challenge in modern polymer chemistry. In order to achieve full control over polymer structure, new synthesis strategies, based on iterative chemistry, has been recently developed. The accessibility of sequence-defined, uniform macromolecular structures enabled the design of polymeric materials beyond classical polymers applications, e.g. data storage. Furthermore, the monomer sequence regulation became an important parameter for the fine modulation of properties and functions of synthetic materials.
About Functional Macromolecules
Our ambition is to develop life-like functions in synthetic polymers through regulation of monomer sequence for development of complex materials.
Work with us
We are always open for new, motivated people to join our team.
We are looking forward to collaborations with industrial partners to develop new technologies based on functional polymers.
Stay tuned about our research projects ranging from fundamental science to applied research and development. Follow us on social media and on our site to get updated on our progress.
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Our expertise lies in the field of (bio)polymers synthesis and nanomaterials preparation. It involves:
- synthesis of tailored polymers using controlled/living polymerization methods, purification and post-polymerization modification
- solid-phase synthesis: synthesis of peptides and oligonucleotides, their modification and purification
- synthesis of sequence-defined polymers using iterative chemistry approaches
- surface chemistry: functionalization of surface, monolayer coatings by covalent attachment (peptides, polymers), layer-by–layer films, spin coating deposition of polymer films
- preparative organic synthesis: synthesis of monomers, polymerization initiators
- synthesis of polymer bioconjugates (polymer-peptide, polymer-oligonucleotide)
- spectroscopy: NMR, UV-vis, FTIR (ATR, transmission), fluorescence, CD
- chromatography: HPLC, GPC, preparative HPLC, Flash
- tensiometry for characterization of surface philicity
- light, fluorescence and AFM microscopy
- dynamic light scattering
- mass spectrometry (MALDI, ESI, Tof-SIMS)
Asymmetric catalysis using enzyme-like ligands based on sequence-programmable oligourethanes
Nature has encoded the secret of life in a sequence of biopolymers such as nucleic acid and proteins. For example, enzymes are capable of catalyzing several biochemical reactions with absolute selectivity. This is attributed to the 3-dimensional geometry of enzymes which determines their functions and activity. Recapitulating similar functions in synthetic macromolecules is a challenge in modern polymer chemistry. The non-natural sequence-defined polymers have great potential to exhibit self-assembly and programmed folding and received widespread attention in material and life sciences. However, there is limited prior information on inducing enzyme-like catalytic properties of synthetic sequence-defined polymers for abiotic chemical transformations. Therefore, we aim to investigate sequence-defined polyurethanes as ligands in asymmetric catalysis. The project will add fundamental knowledge on the synthesis and conformational characteristics of stereo-controlled sequence-defined polyurethanes. This understanding of sequence-structure correlation will further be applied to develop potential ligands for catalytic hydrogenation of alkenes with high selectivity.
Project is carried out in collaboration with Dr Pawel Dydio, Complex Systems in Synthesis & Catalysis Laboratory at ISIS, Université de Strasbourg, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France.
Project SONATINA No 2022/44/C/ST4/00063 funded by Polish National Science Centre
Sequence-regulated polymer self-assembly towards materials mimicking living systems
In living matter, self-assembly benefits from the evolutionary processes that tune interactions to optimize the properties, morphology and functionality of the resulting biomaterials. Nature exploits the primary sequence of natural macromolecules (e.g., proteins) that fold into particular motifs that self-organize into complex structures representing various properties. In contrast, man-made polymer materials are far away from advanced functionalities as represented by living systems.
Nowadays, the progress in polymer synthesis enables full control of monomer sequences with biological precision. However, to enable their practical use a sustainable and highly efficient approach has to be developed. It is expected that sequence-defined macromolecules can be designed to fold into particular 3D structures by a selection of the proper monomer alphabet, as it is observed for natural macromolecules. Yet, very little is known about single chain folding of non-natural macromolecules with defined primary structure and their assembly into complex supramolecular structures has not been investigated, so far.
The project will be carried out in cooperation between:
(i) Roza Szweda`s Functional Macromolecules Team at Łukasiewicz-PORT, Poland, an expert in precision polymer chemistry,
(ii) Takuji Adachi`s Group from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, physical chemist and specialist in optical spectroscopy on self-assembled materials, developing in-situ spectroscopy tools,
We jointly took a challenge to investigate the fundamental self-assembly process of abiotic, sequence-defined polymers. The project aims to obtain knowledge on sequence-regulated, hierarchical polymer self-assembly, which is required for creating synthetic materials with structural sophistication and complex function as represented by living matter.
Project OPUS LAP No 2021/43/I/ST4/01294 funded by Polish National Science Centre
Nature-inspired polymer sensors for improved drinking water quality control
The latest achievements in the field of organic and polymer chemistry, have made possible the synthesis of abiological polymers with a defined primary structure. The pilot applications of precise polymeric building blocks have been demonstrated for catalysis and information storage; however, their great potential has not been explored. The PolyProbe scientific goal is to develop a new, highly sensitive and selective method of detection of nonylofenol based on polymers of defined structure in combination with fluorescence spectroscopy.
Sequence-defined macromolecules of controlled folding
The natural, uniform macromolecules such as proteins and DNA of sequence-defined structures have been inspiring polymer chemists for years. The roles and functions that they can attain are determined by their three-dimensional arrangement that depends on monomer sequence. To reach for the diverse structures and complex properties, represented by native biological polymers, sequence programmability of the synthetic polymer and control of their 3D structure are required.
ConFold aims to investigate structural properties of sequence-defined synthetic polymers -polycarbamates. The general objective in this project is to gain control over the three-dimensional structure of polymers by monomer sequence evolution, as it is observed for natural proteins formed from sequences of amino acids.
ConFOLD will add a fundamental knowledge of synthesis and structural properties of synthetic sequence-defined polymers to fill a part of the large information gap concerning properties and displayed functions between synthetic polymers and native biological materials.. This understanding of sequence-structure relationships will enable to gain better control over polymers properties and will advance their application scope.
Project No 2018/31/D/ST5/01365 funded by Polish National Science Centre, budget 1 455 799,00 PLN