Maxwell J. Robb
Speaker's Institution
California Institute of Technology
Chemistry A101
Mixer Time
Mixer Time
Chemistry B101E
Calendar (ICS) Event
Additional Information

About the Seminar:

The use of mechanical force to selectively activate covalent bond transformations presents unique opportunities for the design of stimuli-responsive polymers for applications ranging from sensing to drug delivery. By incorporating stress-sensitive molecules called mechanophores into polymer chains, force is transduced selectively to weak bonds in the mechanophore to elicit a productive chemical reaction. Mechanochromic mechanophores that produce a change in color are particularly useful and have been widely developed as molecular force probes, empowering the visualization of critical stress and/or strain in materials. These same attributes also make force-induced color changes in polymeric materials appealing for patterning and encryption. In addition, the mechanically triggered release of small molecules offers another powerful approach for sensing and delivery. This presentation will highlight some of our recent research on the development of molecular design strategies and structure–activity relationships for several different mechanophore platforms enabling visual stress reporting and mechanically triggered molecular release as well as some unusual reactivity.


About the Speaker:

Max was born and raised in Colorado and obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from the Colorado School of Mines where he began research in synthetic polymer chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Daniel M. Knauss. After graduating in 2009, Max carried out his Ph.D. studies in the laboratories of Prof. Craig J. Hawker at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  His doctoral research focused broadly on the synthesis of functional organic materials and was recognized by the American Chemical Society with the 2016 Henkel Award for Outstanding Graduate Research in Polymer Chemistry. Max conducted postdoctoral work with Prof. Jeffrey S. Moore at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow prior to joining the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in September 2017. Research in the Robb group seeks to advance the fundamental understanding of mechanochemical reactivity by developing novel molecular design principles, ultimately providing a foundation for creating innovative materials. The group’s research has been recognized by a number of awards including the Beckman Young Investigator award, Sloan Research Fellowship, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, NSF CAREER award, the National Fresenius Award, Rose Hills Foundation Innovator award, and the PMSE Young Investigator award.