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Genetic Engineering of Polymeric Materials

Tirrell, David A. and Fournier, Maurille J. and Mason, Thomas L. (1991) Genetic Engineering of Polymeric Materials. MRS Bulletin, 16 (7). pp. 23-28. ISSN 0883-7694. doi:10.1557/S0883769400056505.

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Polymerization reactions are generally divided into two broad classes: step growth or polycondensation reactions (examples would include the synthesis of polyamides and polyesters), and chain growth processes such as those used to prepare polyethylene or polystyrene. These processes are illustrated schematically in Figure 1. The statistical nature of step and chain growth polymerization processes ensures that the products of such reactions must be heterogeneous. Conventional polymeric materials thus consist of mixtures of chains, often characterized by relatively broad distributions of chain length or composition. In many materials applications, this kind of molecular heterogeneity is advantageous since it suppresses crystallization and helps to preserve desirable properties such as optical clarity or elasticity. On the other hand, synthetic developments that afford improved control of macromolecular architecture have had profound impact on materials science and technology. As examples, one can cite the discovery of Ziegler-Natta polymerization, now used to prepare billions of pounds per year of crystalline polyolefins, or the development of living anionic polymerization of olefins, which led directly to block copolymers and the commercially important thermoplastic elastomers. The advent of recombinant DNA methods has provided a basis for developing polymeric materials characterized by essentially absolute uniformity of chain length, sequence, and stereochemistry. This article outlines the principles governing the cloning and expression of artificial genes, and examines the potential role of artificial proteins in polymer materials science.

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Tirrell, David A.0000-0003-3175-4596
Additional Information:© Materials Research Society 1991. Important contributions to this work have been made by Howard Creel, Yoshikuni Deguchi, Michael Dougherty, Srinivas Kothakota, Mark Krejchi, Kevin McGrath, Ajay Parkhe, Guanghui Zhang, Edward Atkins, Ronald Beavis, Joseph Cappello, and Brian Chait. Our program is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (DMR8914359), from the Center for University of Massachusetts-Industry Research on Polymers, and from the NSF Materials Research Laboratory of the University of Massachusetts.
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Center for University of Massachusetts-Industry Research on PolymersUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:TIRmrsb1991
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:54586
Deposited By: Anne Hormann
Deposited On:25 Feb 2015 20:47
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 20:35

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