Chemical Society Seminar: Peng Chen- Single polymer growth dynamics at single-monomer resolution

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 13:00to14:30
OM 10



This presentation will describe our efforts in developing and applying single-molecule manipulation and imaging approaches to study living polymerization reactions of single polymer chains down to single-monomer resolution. In the first part, I will describe our work in using magnetic tweezers to track single polymer growth in real time and the discovery of nonequilibrium conformational entanglements that play key roles in controlling polymerization kinetics. In the second part, I will describe a new fluorescence-based imaging technique that enables following polymerization of individual polymers at single-monomer resolution, leading to microscopic sequencing of synthetic copolymers and discovery of copolymer sequence patterns.



Peng Chen has been the Peter J.W. Debye Professor of Chemistry at Cornell University since 2013. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Nanjing University, China in 1997. After a year at University of California, San Diego with Prof. Yitzhak Tor learning organic synthesis, he moved to Stanford University and did his Ph.D. with Prof. Edward Solomon in bioinorganic/physical inorganic chemistry. In January 2004, he joined Prof. Sunney Xie’s group at Harvard University for postdoctoral research in single-molecule biophysics. He started his faculty appointment at Cornell University in July 2005. During his independent career, his research group pioneered the study of single-nanoparticle catalysis, electrocatalysis, and photoelectrocatalysis; of living polymerizations by single molecular catalysts; and of biological inorganic systems in vitro and in living cells; using single-molecule/particle imaging and manipulation methods. His current research interests are on heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, metal homeostasis machineries in vitro and in living cells, as well as energy conversion processes in bacteria.

He has received Dreyfus New Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, Sloan Fellowship, Paul Saltman Award, Coblentz Award, ACS Early-Career Award in Experimental Physical Chemistry, Excellence in Catalysis Award from the Catalysis Society of Metro NY, Bau Family Award in Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Pioneer Award, etc., and was elected a fellow of AAAS. He has given many named lectures, including Sessler Distinguished Alumni Lecture at Stanford University and Brian Bent Lecture at Columbia University, as well as many plenary and keynote lectures at international conferences. He serves on the editorial advisory boards of many journals. He is an Associate Editor of Chemical & Biomedical Imaging, an ACS journal. He has also served on many US and international grant review panels and is a standing member and later chairperson of the NIH Enabling Bioanalytical and Imaging Technologies (EBIT) Study Section from 2017-2023.

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