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University of Iowa News Release


May 8, 2007

UI Chemist Receives Carver Trust Grant For 'Green Chemistry'

Ned Bowden, assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry, recently received a three-year grant of $293,791 from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to develop new, more efficient methods of organic synthesis. His work is an example of "green chemistry" that promises to produce products with less waste and require less effort.

With the Carver Grant, Bowden proposes to study how to synthesize complex molecules using "cascade" reactions. In cascade reactions, more than one reaction takes place in a reaction vessel, thereby lowering the amount of waste produced and speeding the synthesis. Bowden uses hollow thimbles -- similar in size and shape to thimbles used in sewing -- made of a polymer that allows small molecules to pass through its walls but does not allow diffusion of many catalysts and reagents. The small molecules can react with catalysts and reagents on either side of the thimble, but the catalysts and reagents remain separated and do not contaminate each other.

Bowden says that his work represents a new approach that is simple to implement, yet robust enough to work under a variety of conditions.

"Our method is unique because we took a materials approach to solve a key problem in organic chemistry," he says. "We believe that our work may have real applications in industry and academic labs for the synthesis of small molecules for drug discovery." Bowden and his colleagues currently are working on several papers that illustrate their method for a variety of cascade reactions.

Bowden has research interests that include synthetic polymer chemistry, organic monolayers and small molecule catalysis. In particular, he developed a mild method to assemble organic monolayers directly on silicon -- the same material used in computers -- that promise to integrate the selectivity of organic chemistry with the terrific electrical properties of silicon. In other work, his group synthesized the largest block copolymers ever reported and demonstrated that they assemble into colorful materials.

The Carver Trust, based in Muscatine, Iowa, made the grant to Bowden and his UI colleagues through the UI Foundation. The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the foundation, visit its Web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,