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Kevin Noonan - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Kevin Noonan

Associate Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Kevin Noonan's research is on the synthesis of new compounds possessing main group elements to impact polymer chemistry and catalysis.


Kevin Noonan's research is focused on the synthesis of new compounds possessing main group elements to impact polymer chemistry and catalysis. The advent of synthetic polymer chemistry has had an enormous impact on our modern world. Though most commercial polymeric materials are made from organic synthons, the incorporation of main group elements or transition metals into polymer backbones can afford materials with unique properties. Sophisticated ligand design can offer mechanistic insight to known reactions while also leading to new catalytic activity. His research aims to build unique ligand frameworks using organophosphorus chemistry and apply these in catalyst systems, exploring many areas of catalysis including polyolefin synthesis and the development of methodologies to prepare functional organic substrates.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Polymer Chemistry

Organophosphorus Chemistry

Homogeneous Catalysis


Media Appearances (3)

Chemistry Outreach Catalyzes CMU Students To Share STEM Joy

Carnegie Mellon University  online


"We really believe in getting science to students at all levels and to get people excited about it," Noonan said. Plus, his students take away something from the experience as well.

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Xun Earns K&L Gates Award

Carnegie Mellon University  online


"It is rare to have someone walk into that kind of space and be a true force, always pressing forward and making progress," Noonan said. "Now, she is a co-author on a paper and she determined how to make a class of compounds that are essentially unknown. She accomplished this with only 10 hours a week working through the semesters. I can only imagine what she could accomplish in a full-time role."

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C&EN  online


“Chemists are fascinated by perturbations in conjugated architectures that in turn impact physical and electronic properties,” Noonan pointed out. “Trying to utilize a wider portion of the periodic table to manipulate π electron frameworks offers opportunities for exciting new discoveries. We thought bringing people together would inspire additional new directions in the field.”

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Industry Expertise (1)


Accomplishments (5)

NSF Career Award (professional)


Army Research Office Young Investigator Award (professional)


NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (professional)


NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (Masters Level) (professional)


NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (Doctoral Level) (professional)


Education (2)

University of British Columbia:: Ph.D., Chemistry

Dalhousie University: B.S.

Articles (5)

Direct Insertion Polymerization of Ionic Monomers: Rapid Production of Anion Exchange Membranes

Angewandte Chemie International Edition

2023 The limited number of methods to directly polymerize ionic monomers currently hinders rapid diversification and production of ionic polymeric materials, namely anion exchange membranes (AEMs) which are essential components in emerging alkaline fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies. Herein, we report a direct coordination‐insertion polymerization of cationic monomers, providing the first direct synthesis of aliphatic polymers with high ion incorporations and allowing facile access to a broad range of materials. We demonstrate the utility of this method by rapidly generating a library of solution processable ionic polymers for use as AEMs.

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Design, Synthesis and Aromaticity of an Alternating Cyclo [4] Thiophene [4] Furan

Chemistry–A European Journal

2023 A new class of conjugated macrocycle, the cyclo[4]thiophene[4]furan hexyl ester (C4TE4FE), is reported. This cycle consists of alternating α‐linked thiophene‐3‐ester and furan‐3‐ester repeat units, and was prepared in a single step using Suzuki–Miyaura cross‐coupling of a 2‐(thiophen‐2‐yl)furan monomer. The ester side groups help promote a syn conformation of the heterocycles, which enables formation of the macrocycle. Cyclic voltammetry studies revealed that C4TE4FE could undergo multiple oxidations, so treatment with SbCl5 resulted in formation of the [C4TE4FE]2+ dication.

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Biocidal Potency of Polymers with Bulky Cations

ACS Macro Letters

2023 The performance of antimicrobial polymers depends sensitively on the type of cationic species, charge density, and spatial arrangement of cations. Here we report antimicrobial polymers bearing unusually bulky tetraaminophosphonium groups as the source of highly delocalized cationic charge. The bulky cations drastically enhanced the biocidal activity of amphiphilic polymers, leading to remarkably potent activity in the submicromolar range. The cationic polynorbornenes with pendent tetraaminophosphonium groups killed over 98% E. coli at a concentration of 0.1 μg/mL and caused a 4-log reduction of E. coli within 2 h at a concentration of 2 μg/mL, showing very rapid and potent bactericidal activity.

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Examining the Alkaline Stability of Tris (dialkylamino) sulfoniums and Sulfoxoniums

The Journal of Organic Chemistry

2022 Herein, a synthetic method was developed to prepare a series of tris(dialkylamino)sulfonium and sulfoxonium cations from sulfur monochloride. Alkaline stability studies of these two cation families in 2 M KOH/CD3OH solution at 80 °C revealed how degradation pathways change as a function of the oxidation state of the S center, as determined by 1H NMR spectroscopy. The sulfonium cations (+S(NR2)3) typically degrade by nucleophilic attack at the sulfur atom with loss of an amino group and a proton transfer reaction to produce sulfoxides, while the sulfoxoniums (+O═S(NR2)3) tend to degrade by loss of an R group to form sulfoximines.

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Cholesterol side groups in Helical Poly (3-alkylesterfurans)

Polymer Journal

2023 Poly(3-alkylesterfurans) fold into helical conformations due to a preference for adjacent furan repeat units in the polymer backbone to adopt a syn conformation in which the oxygen atoms of the furan rings are oriented in the same direction. In this contribution, a new chiral helical poly(3-alkylesterfuran) is reported in which a cholesterol group has been attached to the backbone to ensure excess single-handed helix chirality. This rigid side group promotes a folded conformation of the polymer in chloroform, as evidenced by 1H NMR, absorption, and circular dichroism studies. This is unique among previously reported helical poly(3-alkylesterfurans) with S-3-octanol side chains, as those polymers are much more disordered in the same solvent.

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