From mechanism to materials in photocontrolled polymer networks

Date: December 15, 2021 1:30 pm (ET)


  • Julia Kalow
    Northwestern University
Julia Kalow

Abstract: In polymer networks based on dynamic covalent bonds, changes in reactivity can be translated into macroscopic responses. Light offers precise, tunable, and noninvasive spatiotemporal control over molecular reactivity. The Kalow lab has designed crosslinks that allow us to tune the thermodynamics and kinetics of dynamic covalent bonds with light, including visible light, based on the conformation of an adjacent photoswitch. When incorporated into polymer networks, the stability or lifetime of these dynamic covalent bonds can be tuned with light. I will discuss our efforts to elucidate the molecular mechanism underlying these macroscopic changes, as well as rational optimization of photoswitches to enable applications in 3D cell culture.

Biography: Julia’s research goal is the development of strategies to control the synthesis and properties of polymeric materials with light. Her group’s work has been recognized with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, a NSF CAREER award, and the Sloan Research Fellowship. She obtained her BA at Columbia University in 2008, where she studied chemistry and creative writing, then pursued graduate studies at Princeton University under the supervision of Prof. Abigail Doyle. After completing her PhD in 2013, she was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT with Prof. Timothy Swager. She started her independent career at Northwestern’s Department of Chemistry in July 2016.