This Phase-I Center for Chemical Innovation will seek to discover, characterize and subsequently utilize a wide range of highly energetic and non-equilibrium chemical processes at interfaces. This will enable transformative advances in catalysis, materials growth and processing, and condensed state environmental chemistry. Scientific opportunities include the preparation of new classes of metastable interfaces with enhanced catalytic function, chemistry carried out with different reagent and substrate temperatures leading to enhanced process selectivity, new concepts in carbon dioxide management, and the creation of new or refined functional materials based on growth and processing under energetic and non-equilibrium conditions. The CCI brings a wide range of tools to bear on this grand challenge, including supersonic and hyperthermal molecular beams, in situ and ex situ scanning probe and electron microscopy, a complete suite of surface science and optical analytical spectroscopies, quantum chemical and materials computation, and molecular dynamics, molecular mechanics and Monte Carlo simulations.
The Center for Energetic Non-Equilibrium Chemistry at Interfaces (CENECI) will support collaborative and team-based discovery that integrates researchers at the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Montana State University and Northwestern University. Postdoctoral fellows as well as students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels will participate in research activities in more than one CENECI laboratory, thus significantly broadening their training and introducing them to team-based discovery. These activities will be enabled by cyberinfrastructure links among all of the groups and a CENECI website, allowing ready participation in meetings, seminars, computation, and experiments from afar. A comprehensive outreach program will accompany activities at all institutions, with the focus during Phase-I being on chemistry education enrichment to the local underrepresented Hispanic and African-American K-12 populations in Chicago, Madison, and Boston, as well the Native American communities of Montana.
Poloxamer-188 (P-188) is a generic, off-the-shelf pharmaceutical compound that has been approved by the FDA as an agent to decrease human blood viscosity prior to transfusions. A research team at the University of Chicago discovered that P-188 also has the unique ability to heal cell membranes: it can seal and repair holes in membranes which, if left untreated, typically lead to cell death. Once the membrane is stabilized, the cell can begin its natural self-healing process. During this healing process, the repaired cells excrete P-188, which is safely removed from the body through the kidneys.
The Maroon Biotech E-Team created a new class of drugs based on the molecular structure of P-188. These new co-polymers could be used to treat human cellular injuries resulting from central nervous system (CNS) injury, heart attack, and stroke.