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Derek Gates


Research and Teaching Interests

Inorganic Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Materials Science, Catalysis

Research in my group bridges the traditional areas of inorganic chemistry and polymer science. The development of synthetic methodologies to prepare new macromolecules with interesting structures and properties is a challenging frontier in chemistry. Most known polymers contain backbones composed of combinations of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, and their properties are tailored by structural modification of the side-group or the main-chain architecture. The incorporation of inorganic elements into the polymer backbone can lead to unique properties not obtainable by modification of known organic macromolecules. Notably, the industrially important silicones [R2SiO]n exhibit useful properties such as extreme low-temperature flexibility (below –100°C), excellent thermo-oxidative stability, and good biocompatibility.

In principle, it should be possible to prepare a wide range of polymers with interesting properties using various combinations of elements. Unfortunately, growth in inorganic polymer science has been hindered by the difficulty in finding suitable synthetic methods to link inorganic elements into long chains. In contrast, organic polymer science benefits from the numerous, and general, transformations of organic functional groups. For example, many important polymerization processes involve transformations of the C=C bonds in alkenes. The most recognizable of these is the addition polymerization of olefins to produce commodity polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, PTFE and acrylic resins (see below). In addition, an emerging frontier in materials science involves incorporating C=C bonds into π-conjugated polymers such as polyacetylene or poly(p-phenylenevinylene) (PPV). These polymers are of interest in emissive displays (i.e. oLED’s). Despite the widespread utility of carbon-carbon multiple bonds in polymer chemistry, there is no analogous chemistry for inorganic multiple bonds of the heavier elements.


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Chemistry D-320
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Curriculum Vitae

2011 CSC Strem Chemicals Award for Pure or Applied Inorganic Chemistry, Editor of Heteroatom Chemistry (2009-), CNC-IUPAC Award 2007, SUS-Teaching Excellence Award 2002, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M. Brookhart, 1997-99); Ph.D., University of Toronto (I. Manners, 1997); B.Sc., Dalhousie University (1993).



Bates, J. I. ; Patrick, B. O. ; Gates, D. P. A Lewis Acid-Mediated Synthesis Of P-Alkyl-Substituted Phosphaalkenes. New Journal of Chemistry 2010, 34, 1660 - 1666.
Bates, J. I. ; Dugal-Tessier, J. ; Gates, D. P. Phospha-Organic Chemistry: From Molecules To Polymers. Dalton Transactions 2010, 39, 3151 - 3159.


Bates, J. I. ; Kennepohl, P. ; Gates, D. P. Abnormal Reactivity Of An N-Heterocyclic Carbene (Nhc) With A Phosphaalkene: A Route To A 4-Phosphino-Substituted Nhc. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English) 2009, 48, 9844-7.


Noonan, K. J. T. ; Gillon, B. H. ; Cappello, V. ; Gates, D. P. Phosphorus-Containing Block Copolymer Templates Can Control The Size And Shape Of Gold Nanostructures. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2008, 130, 12876-+.
Gillon, B. H. ; Patrick, B. O. ; Gates, D. P. Macromolecular Complexation Of Poly(Methylenephosphine) To Gold(I): A Facile Route To Highly Metallated Polymers. Chemical Communications 2008, 2161-2163.