Ben Beck graduated from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio) in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. He continued his studies at Case and pursued a PhD in macromolecular science and engineering under the direction of Prof. Stuart J. Rowan. In April of 2005 he received his doctorate for his thesis entitled: “Using the Metal-Ligand Interaction to Construct Complex Supramolecular Polymer Architectures.” In the fall of 2005 he began work with Prof. Craig Hawker as a post-doctoral researcher.
Ben’s current research is focused on preparing polymer nanoparticles via intramolecular crosslinking of linear polymers. These random copolymers possess functional side groups such as azides, olefins, and isocyanates that will be used to crosslink the polymers under ultra-dilute conditions. The motivation for this research is to find a milder condition for the chain collapse of polymers into nanoparticles. The current technique uses benzocyclobutane (BCB) as crosslinker and requires a reaction in benzyl ether at 250°C. Click chemistry (azide + alkyne ? triazole) does not require temperatures above 100°C and is free of side products making it a strong candidate to replace BCB. Isocyanate chemistry, has the potential to be a “room-temperature” method for chain collapse. The future direction of this work is to produce gram quantities of nanoparticles with full characterization and well defined size, for our collaborator Michael Mackay who will examine the rheological effects of these materials.