Polymer Chemistry Author of the Week – Bin Liu

Bin Liu received her BSc degree in organic chemistry from Nanjing Universiy and Ph.D.degree in polymer chemistry from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2001. She was a postdoctoral fellow and an assistant researcher from 2001-2005 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She joined the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department of NUS as an assistant professor by the end of 2005 and was promoted to associate professor in 2010. Her current research focuses on conjugated polymers in sensing, imaging and optoelectronic device applications.

Details of her research activities can be found at: http://cheed.nus.edu.sg/~cheliub/main.php 

What was your inspiration in becoming a chemist?

My daddy, with a major in French, always had a dream to become a good scientist. He started training me to love science when I was a little girl. I enjoyed reading science books rather than literatures and novels in general. I was always curious about the ways molecules interact to transform into products. I was lucky to be trained as a chemist during undergraduate and graduate studies. I found being a chemist was very rewarding. I’m always delighted to see the impact that a chemist can make on our society by producing new materials and new technologies.

What was the motivation behind the research in your recent Polymer Chemistry paper? (DOI: 10.1039/c2py20113E)

My research group has a long-standing interest in developing conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) for sensing and imaging applications. Our recent studies reveal that CPEs have shown high brightness, good photostability and low cytotoxicity, which are promising fluorescent probes for cellular imaging and subcellular protein sensing. It remains a challenge to develop CPEs with high fluorescence quantum yield in the far-red/near infrared (FR/NIR) region. Of equal importance is to develop CPEs with absorption maxima that match the commercial laser excitation sources for maximum performance. The paper reported a simple strategy to design CPEs that simultaneously meet the two challenges by clicking alkyne-PEG-COOH to azide-containing poly(fluorene-co-benzoxadiazole). The terminal –COOH allows further conjugation to peptide for targeted cancer cell imaging. This work represents a simple new strategy to synthesize CPEs, which will open new opportunities to optimize the CPE performance in various applications.

Why did you choose Polymer Chemistry to publish your work?

We always try to balance our publications in different journals from ACS, RSC and Wiley. Polymer chemistry is an exciting new journal which publishes interesting and innovative research related to all aspects of polymers. I also enjoyed the fast review and publication process. The free-of-charge for color Figures is also very attractive.

In which upcoming conferences may our readers meet you?

International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials, 2012, 1st – 6th of July, Singapore.

How do you spend your spare time?

Reading, cooking and playing with kids.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

I would probably be a good chef, taking care of cooking and gardening. Can play some food chemistry too!

(On behalf of Cyrille Boyer)

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