Richard Brown, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
"Polymers for Long Range Photo-induced Proton Transfer"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul Smith
Expected Graduation Date: May 2010
Photonics and the development of molecular electronic devices are two exciting fields at the interface of modern chemistry and material science. Our objective is the creation of a polymer that, upon absorption of light, will propagate proton transfer over long distances. The resulting photo-induced proton transfer would ultimately be used to transfer protons across membranes, thereby establishing a proton gradient and an electrochemical potential. We envision that incorporation of large numbers of the aforementioned polymers would facilitate photochemical creation of membrane potentials. The energy associated with such potentials would be used to do physical work in energy applications. Such polarized membranes could also serve in more complex molecular electronic devices. The specific aim of this work is to synthesize the monomer 1 (methyl 4-amino-2,3-dihydroxybenzoate), to use this to synthesize oligomeric benzoxazoles 2 and 3, and to examine their proton transfer properties indirectly by evaluating their photochemical behaviour. In particular, we hope to find that elongation of the oligomeric chain will cause nonlinear variation of absorbance or fluorescence, indicating that the individual chromophores/proton transfer units are acting in a coordinated fashion. The next step would be to implant these oligomers into a membrane and examine proton transfer behaviour.