Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Here's Research to Lift Your Spirits

Now that my days of bathing in DOTP are over (at least temporarily), I am belatedly getting around to discussing a recent research article published in Polymer Chemistry entitled "Absolut 'copper catalyzation perfected'; robust living polymerization of NIPAM: Guinness is good for SET-LRP" (Open Access). You may recall the fuss from earlier this year when the Haddleton group from the University of Warwick published in JACS their efforts in aqueous, copper-mediated, living polymerization in tequila. Now they're back at it again, but in a bigger way.

No being satisfied with using just tequila, they expanded their work into a global effort:
"Taking advantage of the multi-national spread of researchers in the laboratory, and our considerable interest (and expertise) in alcoholic beverages, it was decided to initiate a search to study alcoholic solvents from each person's country of origin for this precision polymer synthesis."
All told, 27 different imbibitions were used, with various beers being the most common. 2 potables caught my eye however, the first being A'Bunadh Single Malt Scotch - a waste of a lovely Scotch if you ask me. But what really left my jaw hanging was the use of a 1973 Napoleon Brandy - 40 years old and into the reaction flask it goes. 40 years old! If you took all the 'o's I've used in writing this post and strung them together in the word smoooooooth, it still would fall short of describing a 40-year old brandy (even if it isn't graded).

Despite this lack of judgment on the part of at least one of the researchers, polymer chemists everywhere need to lift a glass of their favorite drink high and toast these efforts, and also never look at their drinks quite the same way again. į sveikatą!


Curryworks said...

Then again the whole SET-LRP vs. SARA ATRP is picking up again. Any thoughts?

Chris Waldron said...


One of the authors here. Thanks for your comments and I'm glad you enjoyed the paper. The response so far have been interesting, I can't help but think that some people have missed the 'fun' element of this though. And fun it was.

With regards to the brandy, that was mine. We only used about 5-10ml for each experiment so not much good liquor was wasted in the process, don't worry! But hey, you can't put a price on scientific endeavor anyway, right?

I'll watch the mechanistic debates from afar, methinks...



John said...


Thanks for the comments. If you ever want an outside source to reverify the results, I'd be happy to help.

You can trust me with the brandy, but my labmates? Well, here is some of: my past experience with them...