Mark Chen

Assistant Professor
(610) 758-1584
Seeley G. Mudd, Room 493
Research Interests: 
synthetic organic chemistry
physical organic chemistry
open-shell aromatics
air stable radicals
π-conjugated materials
organic electronics
Teaching Interests: 
Introductory Organic Chemistry
Advanced Organic Chemistry
Organic Polymer Science
problem solving

Charles E. Kaufman Foundation New Investigator Award, 2015

My research focuses on the discovery and development of new electroactive organic materials. Specifically, we are developing synthetic routes and methods to construct new air-stable, open-shell, π-conjugated molecules. These compounds employ stabilized unpaired spin to achieve new materials properties that include luminescence, conductivity, and even catalysis. Ultimately, we aim to study these compounds as functional materials in devices, in order to improve upon current materials capabilities in the field of organic electronics (i.e. solar cells, field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes). 

Selected Publications:

1.   Douglas, J.D.; Chen, M.S.*; Niskala, J.R.; Lee, O.P.; Yiu, A.T.; Young, E.P.; Fréchet, J.M.J.*  “Solution-Processed, Molecular Photovoltaics that Exploit Hole Transfer from Non-Fullerene, n-Type Materials.”  Adv. Mater., 201426, 4313. Link via

2.   Chen, M.S.*; Lee, O.P.; Niskala, J.R.; Yiu, A.T.; Beaujuge, P.M.; Onishi, S.; Tassone, C.J.; Schmidt, K.; Toney, M.F.; Zettl, A.; Fréchet, J.M.J.* “Enhanced Solid-State Order and Field-Effect Hole Mobility through Control of Nanoscale Solution Aggregation.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013135, 19229.  Link via

• Highlighted in “Donor-Acceptor Polymers” ACS Selects2015, Virtual Issue 33.

3.   Chen, M.S.*; Niskala, J.R.; Unruh, D.A.; Chu, C.K.; Lee, O.P.; Fréchet, J.M.J.*  “Control of Polymer-Packing Orientation in Thin Films through Synthetic Tailoring of Backbone Coplanarity.”  Chem. Mater.2013, 25, 4088. Link via

4.   Hoffman, D.P.; Lee, O.P.; Millstone, J.E.; Chen, M.S.; Su, T.A.; Creelman, M.; Fréchet, J.M.J.; Mathies, R.A.*  “Electron Transfer Dynamics of Triphenylamine Dyes Bound to TiO2 Nanoparticles from Femtosecond Stimulated Raman.”  J. Phys. Chem C2013117, 6990. Link via

5.   Douglas, J.D.; Griffini, G.; Holcombe, T.W.; Young, E.P.; Lee, O.P.; Chen, M.S.*; Fréchet, J.M.J.*  “Functionalized Isothianaphthene Monomers That Promote Quinoidal Character in Donor-Acceptor Copolymers for Organic Photovoltaics.”  Macromolecules 201245, 4069-4074. Link via

• One of the most accessed articles in Macromolecules from April 2012 to June 2012.

6.   Lee, O.P.; Yiu, A.T.; Beaujuge, P.M.; Woo, C.H.; Holcombe, T.W.; Millstone, J.E.; Douglas, J.D.; Chen, M.S.*; Fréchet, J.M.J*.  "Efficient Small Molecule Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cells with High Fill Factors via Pyrene-Directed Molecular Self-Assembly."  Adv. Mater.201123, 5359Link via

7.   Chen, M.S.; White, M.C.* “Combined Effects on Selectivity in Fe-Catalyzed Methylene Oxidation.”  Science 2010327, 566. Link via

• For perspective on this work see: M.J. Haas, “Unlocking Ketones.” SciBX, 20103, 1.

• For highlights see: “Methylene Magic.” Nature, 2010463, 590; S. Borman, “Choosing One Among Many.” Chem. & Eng. News, 201088, 54; A. Turley, “Targeted Bond Breakage.” Chem. & Ind. 2010Feb, 11.

8.   Vermeulen, N.A.; Chen, M.S.; White, M.C.*  “The Fe(PDP)-Catalyzed Aliphatic C-H Oxidation: A Slow Addition Protocol.”  Tetrahedron 2009, 65, 3078. Link via

9.   Chen, M.S.; White, M.C.*  “A Predictably Selective Aliphatic C-H Oxidation for Complex Molecule Synthesis.” Science 2007318, 783. Link via

• Included among advances in Science’s “Breakthrough of the Year” Special Issue, 2007318, 1848; “Highlights of 2007.”Chem. & Eng. News200785, 13; and “Cutting Edge Chemistry in 2007.” Chem. World20085, 24.

• For perspectives on this work see: R.H. Crabtree, “No Protection Required.” Science2007318, 756; M. Christmann, “Selective Oxidation of Aliphatic C-H Bonds in the Synthesis of Complex Molecules.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 200847, 2740; S.K. Ritter, “Iron’s Star Rising.” Chem & Eng. News200886, 53.

• For highlights see: J. Kemsley, “Catalyst Oxidizes Selectively.” Chem. Eng. News200785, 8; “Green Cleaver.” Nature2007450, 139; P. Walter, “Green Catalyst could Clean-Up in Drug Production.” Chem. & Ind.200721, 7; R. Van Noorden, “Step Change for Organic Synthesis.” Chem. World2007(12)23; K. Bullis, “Drugs that are Easier on the Environment.” Tech. Rev.2007Jan/Feb, 85.

10.   Chen, M.S.; Prabagaran, N.; Labenz, N.; White, M.C.*  “Serial Ligand Catalysis: A Highly Selective Allylic C-H Oxidation.”  J. Am. Chem. Soc.2005127, 6970. Link via

• For highlight see: “Catalysis with Serial Ligands.” Chem. & Eng. News 200583, 31.

11.   Chen, M.S.; White, M.C.* “A Sulfoxide Promoted, Catalytic Method for the Regioselective Synthesis of Allylic Acetates from Monosubstituted Olefins via C-H Oxidation.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2004126, 1346. Link via