New paper on phostones and poly(phosphonate)s!

Great work by Emily with the Wurm group at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. This paper describes the synthesis of phostones, i.e., 2-alkoxy-2-oxo-1,3-oxaphospholanes, and their use in the preparation of linear poly(phosphonate)s via ring-opening polymerization resulting in polymers with a hydrolytically stable P–C bond in the polymer backbone. Phostones have the stable P–C bond within the cycle, which leads to a dramatic increase of the monomer stability toward hydrolysis and long shelf-lives compared to other cyclic phosphoesters, which hydrolyze immediately at contact with water.

Read it here


University cuts out fossil fuels investments

The student body at the University of Edinburgh was surprised yesterday evening with an email from its senior Vice-Principal, Charlie Jeffery, announcing remarkable news: the University has decided to complete its transition out of fossil fuels within three years.

For those who have been following trends in the institution’s investments, this is no real surprise. Since 2010, it has invested more than £150m in low carbon technology, climate-related research and businesses that directly benefit the environment. The move is aligned with the efforts promoted by their ‘Zero by 2040’ policy, for which the University aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, under which more than £30m were invested in low carbon technology on campus.

It is important to remember that this divestment does not mean we will cease to work, as researchers and consultants, with companies in the fossil fuels sector. Academic researchers, including the Green Materials Laboratory, play an essential and growing role in improving the sustainability of petroleum companies, from new fuel additives to alternative polymers to new energy alternatives. The Green Materials Laboratory, in particular, is keen to ensure that those dialogues and research relationships continue, to ensure we maintain a strong voice in these organisations, and advocate for a more sustainable future.

Having represented less than 1% of the invested funds at the time of the decision, this step towards a greener future is largely symbolic: The University has the largest endowment fund of any university in Scotland, and, following this step, it will become the largest in the UK to be free of fossil fuel investment. To read the press release, head here.

Fern’s new cross-metathesis paper!

Cross-metathesis functionalised exo-olefin derivatives of lactide
Fern’s latest work explores the use of two derivatives of lactide, each of which features an exocyclic olefin, and their pre-polymerization modification by olefin cross-metathesis. The ring-opening polymerization of these new monomers, and their hydrogenated congeners, is facilitated by organo- and Lewis-acid catalysts. Together, they offer a new strategy for derivatizing and altering the properties of poly(lactic acid).

One Last Lecture in Japan…

In my last week here in Japan, I presented a lecture to the local section of the Society of Polymer Science Japan, which has been promoting polymer science in industry and academia since 1951. Hosted by Prof. Masami Kamigaito, this was a fun lecture with lots of good questions from the students and staff attending, and an enjoyable meal of eel, a Nagoya specialty. I’m hopeful that Assistant Prof. Mineto Uchiyama keeps in touch – he just wouldn’t stop talking the entire night! Thanks very much for the hospitality – and hopefully we can collaborate in the future.IMG_4775.JPG

Science Adventures in Japan

My two months in Japan hosted by Nagoya University’s Research Center for Materials Science are almost at an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and have learned a lot, both about Japanese culture and the remarkable science going on here in Nagoya and the rest of Japan.

My principal host on this adventure is Prof. Kunio Awaga, whose work sits at the interface between coordination chemistry and materials science, has been an exceptional guide. Our many lunches and “tea-times” have been a welcome tether during my stay. I have also appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the rest of the exceptional science going on in Nagoya, including emerging collaborations with the groups of Prof. Susumu Saito and Prof. Shigehiro Yamaguchi which seem super interesting and impactful.

I’ve also had the opportunity to explore beyond Nagoya, with excellent experiences talking science with Prof. Mitsuo Sawamoto at Chubu University, Prof. Makoto Ouchi (and his excellent – and humorous – colleagues!) at Kyoto University and Assistant Prof. Yasuhiro Kohsaka at Shinshu University. Hopefully some super collaborations to come out of those trips as well, especially with Yasuhiro’s interesting monomer collection!

Thanks to everyone who has been an exceptional host during my time here in Japan – I’m very appreciative of the hospitality and looking forward to my next visit!

UK Government Clamping Down on Plastic Waste (Eventually)

It was great to see that Theresa May and the UK government are taking the issue of plastic waste seriously. While it will be impossible to break our addition to plastic completely, replacing non-degradable petroleum-derived plastics with sustainable alternatives is the best route forward to saving our world from this plastic threat.

While 2042 is a long way off, it is great to see a clear indication of the importance of this as a target, including funding for research into sustainable plastics innovation. Check out the link below for the original story: