Dominic V Mcgrath

Dominic V Mcgrath

Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry-Sci
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-4690

Research Interest

Dominic Mcgrath, PhD, set forth a program which involves the use of organic synthesis for the design, development, and application of new concepts in macromolecular, supramolecular, and materials chemistry. Research efforts span a number of areas in the chemical sciences and include studies of: 1) chiral dendritic macromolecules and the effect of chiral subunits on dendrimer conformation, 2) photochromic dendrimers and linear polymers which undergo structural changes in response to visible light, 3) liquid crystalline materials based on dendritic and photochromic mesogens, and 4) synthesis of new ligands based on saturated nitrogen heterocycles.A continuing interest remains in the effect of structural perturbations on the properties and functional of dendritic macromolecules. Part of this research addresses the design, synthesis, and study of dendrimeric materials containing chiral moieties in the interior for influencing the conformational order of these 3-dimensional macromolecules. An ultimate goal is to develop materials active for the selective clathration of small guest molecules. Potential applications include chemical separations, sensor technology, environmental remediation, and asymmetric catalysis.Dr. Mcgrath and his lab team recently developed several new classes of dendritic materials containing photochromic subunits. As nature uses light energy to alter function in photoresponsive systems such as photosynthesis, vision, phototropism, and phototaxis, they use light energy to drive gross topological or constitutional changes in fundamentally new dendritic architectures with precisely placed photoresponsive subunits. In short, they can drive dendrimer properties with light stimuli. Two entirely new classes of photoresponsive dendritic macromolecules have been developed and include: 1) photochromic dendrimers and 2) photolabile dendrimers. Dr. Mcgrath anticipates that switchable and degradable dendrimers of this type will have application in small molecule transport systems based on their ability to reversibly encapsulate guest molecules. He continues to develop these materials as potential transport hosts and photoresponsive supramolecular assemblies.


Tsukruk, V. V., Luzinov, I., Larson, K., Li, S., & McGrath, D. V. (2001). Intralayer reorganization of photochromic molecular films. Journal of Materials Science Letters, 20(9), 873-876.


Azobenzene-containing amphiphilic dendrimer was used to fabricate a photosensitive monolayer. A crown-ether moiety served as a polar head and a polyether fragment with long-chain alkyl tails providing hydrophobicity for an overall amphiphilic character. The architecture exhibited two dissimilar bulky terminal fragments.

Radhakrishnan, U., & McGrath, D. V. (2000). Synthesis of spiropyran based photoresponsive dendrimers. American Chemical Society, Polymer Preprints, Division of Polymer Chemistry, 41(1), 883-884.


The polarity of the open form of spiropyrans is suitable for use as surfactants and for controlling the hydrophilicity of the dendrimer surface with the use of light. Spiropyrans as a peripheral unit of dendrimer with a non-polar inner core will lead to the formation of macromolecules with photolytically-controlled amphiphilic character. In this connection, spiropyran subunits were introduced on the surface of dendrimers prepared using the convergent synthetic strategy to modify the dendrimers' properties.

Polaske, N. W., McGrath, D. V., & McElhanon, J. R. (2010). Thermally reversible dendronized step-polymers based on sequential Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition and diels-alder "click" reactions. Macromolecules, 43(3), 1270-1276. doi:


Thermally labile dendronized AA-BB step polymers are described. First through third generation dendritic bisfuran monomers 6a-6c were prepared in part by the Cu(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne Huisgen 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction and in turn polymerized by the reversible furan-maleimide Diels-Alder reaction, The Diels-Alder reaction conditions were optimized through end-capping studies with N-phenylmaleimide (7). Dendronized step polymers 10a-10c were then formed from reaction with bismaleimide 9 and their assembly, disassembly, and reassembly behavior studied by GPC. © 2009 American Chemical Society.

McGrath, D. V., Wu, M., & Chaudhry, U. (1996). An approach to highly functionalized dendrimers from chiral, non-racemic synthetic monomers. Tetrahedron Letters, 37(34), 6077-6080.


An approach to dendrimers with highly functional interiors constructed from chiral, non-racemic hydrobenzoin monomer units is presented. An optically pure monomer unit is prepared using asymmetric dihydroxylation (AD) and a representative dendrimer is constructed by a convergent growth strategy.

Ortiz, A., Flora, W. H., D'Ambruoso, G. D., Armstrong, N. R., & McGrath, D. V. (2005). Dendritic incorporation of quinacridone: solubility, aggregation, electrochemistry, and solid-state luminescence. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 444-446. doi:10.1039/B413684E

The first incorporation of quinacridone, a technologically important organic electroluminescent emitter, into dendrimers increases solubility, decreases aggregation, retards heterogeneous electron transfer, and enhances luminescence in condensed phases (powders and thin films).