Spotlight on Graduate Student Ruiwen Chen

Graduate Student Ruiwen Chen

Ruiwen Chen was born in Jilin Province in China and completed her undergraduate studies in Textile Chemical Engineering at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in 2013. She came to University of New Hampshire and joined Dr. Erik Berda’s group in fall 2015. Her research is focused on synthesizing nanostructured polymer building blocks from single polymer chains, and hierarchical self-assembly of polymeric nanoparticle building blocks into nano, meso, and micro scale architectures and devices.  When not working, Ruiwen enjoys cooking, swimming and watching horror movies.

The Berda group specializes in the synthesis and applications of single-chain nanoparticles (SCNP). The idea is to synthesize linear polymers decorated with pendant groups that are able to form covalent or supramolecular bonds. After intrachain crosslinking of pendant groups the individual polymer chains are self-folded into polymeric nanoparticles smaller than 20 nm in size. SCNPs offer a simplified route to mimic tertiary structures of proteins and have found applications in catalysis, nanomedicine, nanoreactors, sensors, etc. Ruiwen’s current project is on synthesizing SCNPs via intrachain radical polymerization. She made linear poly(oxanorbornene imide)s with pendant methacryloyl groups by ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). When added a radical initiator in dilute solution, pendant methacryloyl groups undergo intrachain radical polymerization, folding the linear polymer chain into an SCNP. The process was characterized by 1H NMR and size exclusion chromatography (SEC).