UB Chemist to Receive Herman F. Mark Young Scholar Award Recognizing Excellence in Research and Teaching

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — University at Buffalo chemist Javid Rzayev has been selected to receive the Herman F. Mark Young Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymer Chemistry.

The award, a prestigious prize in the field, recognizes excellence in research and leadership in polymer science among scientists 35 and younger. In choosing a recipient, judges consider contributions to the advancement of polymer science through teaching, basic or applied research, technical leadership and scientific writings.

Rzayev, an assistant professor of chemistry, specializes in polymer materials design. Research activities in his laboratory include synthesizing polymer structures and architectures; analyzing the polymers’ supramolecular organization and self-assembly process; and testing the polymers’ final macroscale properties.

The work is focused around utilizing custom-made polymer molecules to address ongoing challenges in the broad fields of nanotechnology and biomedical sciences, including nanomaterial purification, DNA sequencing, drug delivery and ultrafiltration.

In one recent paper, for instance, Rzayev and fellow researchers describe a novel and useful material they created: a new kind of nanomembrane containing pores about 55 nanometers in diameter — large enough for water molecules to slip through easily, but too small for bacteria. The breakthrough, outlined in the peer-reviewed journal Nano Letters earlier this year, could advance water filtration technologies.

Rzayev’s research team synthesized the new nanomembrane using a special kind of molecule called a bottle-brush molecule, which resembles a round hair brush, with molecular “bristles” protruding all the way around a molecular backbone. Bottle-brush molecules have special qualities in part due to their ability to organize themselves to form highly structured nanomaterials.

The nanomembrane research is part of a larger suite of studies Rzayev is conducting on bottle-brush molecules using funding from a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the foundation’s most prestigious award for junior investigators.

His other work includes the fabrication of organic nanotubes for drug delivery, and the assembly of layered, bottle-brush polymers that reflect visible light like the wings of a butterfly do.

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