Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Stefanie Sydlik

Stefanie A. Sydlik

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering (courtesy)

Carnegie Mellon University


Phone: (412) 268-5579

Office: Mellon Institute 840

ORCID: 0000-0001-9375-2356

Group website

Faculty & Research

Stefanie A. Sydlik

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Research Areas

Polymer science, materials chemistry, biomaterials, electronic materials

The Sydlik group synthesizes novel polymers and materials via the principles of molecular design. Drawing on her diverse background in electronic, mechanical, and biological materials, the group is uniquely situated at the interface of chemistry, biomedical engineering, and materials science. Currently, they are designing and implementing strategies to transform graphene oxide into a biomimetic, biodegradable scaffold for bone regeneration and applying concepts from classic polymer theory to design smart conductive materials with tunable mechanical properties. Details on specific projects can be found below.

Prof. Sydlik received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Timothy Swager studying novel triptycene and nanocarbon based materials. She continued her training at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Robert Langer, developing a novel biomimetic block copolymer for cartilage repair and establishing the biocompatibility of graphene oxide. Through her training, she received fellowships from the Beckman Foundation, NSF, and NIH. She joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in August of 2015.

Osteomimetic Graphene Composite Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration

Critically sized bone defects, resulting from traumatic injury do not heal and lead to deformation and loss of function. To solve this problem, we will explore a completely novel application of graphene as an orthopedic material, using an osteomimetic graphene oxide (GO) as a scaffold for bone regeneration. Unique bone-like bulk compressive properties have been found in a phosphate functionalized graphene and this could eliminate compliance mismatch, which leads to fibrosis and ultimately failure of a device. GO will be functionalized with a hydroxyapatite-like polyphosphate and a biomimetic polyamide or poly(α-hydroxy ester), which will promote cell adhesion and bulk degradation. Recent literature studies suggest the biocompatibility and autodegradability of GO and this project will explore the feasibility of this design in vitro and in vivo.

Conductive Triblock Copolymer Hydrogels for Neuronal Regeneration

Injuries to the nervous system seldom heal and lead to pain, loss of function, and even paralysis. Currently, there is no viable treatment although synthetic conduits to promote nerve regeneration are a promising emerging technology. Harnessing the power of block copolymer self-assembly to direct neuron growth, we will design a novel class of conductive triblock copolymer hydrogels as the basis for a neural regeneration conduit. These materials will be designed to contain a block to promote neural cell adhesion, a conductive polymer block to provide electrical connections, and a biodegradable block for and the creation of longitudinal pores to direct neuron growth.

High Strength Conductive Polymers for Smart Armor

Imagine the soldier of the future, where one set of smart body armor includes ballistic protection coupled with actuators to provide bionic strength, sensors to indicate danger, and flexible solar panels, to provide energy to the whole system. This dream is not far from reality with conductive polymers. One well-studied high strength polymeric fiber, poly(diimidazo pyridinylene(dihydroxy)phenylene) (PPD, or M5 fiberĀ®) also possesses a fully conjugated aromatic backbone. However, the optoelectronic properties of this polymer have been completely underutilized and remain unstudied. This project will study the optoelectronic properties of this polymer and utilize them in the design of a novel polymer actuator, sensor, and photovoltaic material, with the ultimate goal of synthesizing the applications into one suit of smart armor.

Education and Appointments
Years Position or Degree
2015 (July) Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
2013–2015 Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2012 Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2007 B.S., Chemistry and Polymer Science, minor in Engineering Studies, Carnegie Mellon University
Awards and Distinctions
Years Award
2014–2015 Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
2013 ACS Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research, MIT Chemistry Nominee
2008–2011 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
2008 MIT Department of Chemistry Award for Outstanding Teaching
2007 Carnegie Mellon Judith A. Resnik Award
2006–2007 Beckman Scholars Program Fellowship
All publications
Selected Publications

Smith, Z. C.; Wright, Z. M.; Arnold, A. M.; Sauve, G.; McCullough, R. D.; Sydlik, S. A. "Increased Toughness and Excellent Electronic Properties in Regioregular Random Copolymers of 3-Alkylthiophenes and Thiophene." Adv. Elec. Mater., 2016, doi:10.1002/aelm.201600316

Holt, B. D.; Arnold, A. M.; Sydlik, S. A. "In It for the Long Haul: The Cytocompatibility of Aged Graphene Oxide and Its Degradation Products." Adv. Health. Mater., 2016, doi: 10.1002/adhm.201600745

Holt, B. D.; Wright, Z. M.; Arnold, A. M.; Sydlik, S. A. "Graphene Oxide as a Scaffold for Bone Regeneration." Invited review for WIRES Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology, 2016, doi:10.1002/wnan.1437

Sydlik, S. A.; Jhunjhunwala, S.; Webber, M. J.; Anderson, D. G.; Langer, R. S. “The In Vivo Compatibility of Graphene Oxide and the Effect of Oxidation State” ACS Nano, 2015, 9, 3866- 3874.
Featured on NanoTechWeb.

Webber, M. J.; Khan, O. F.; Sydlik, S. A.; Tang, B. C. “A Perspective on the Clinical Translation of Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering” Annals. Biom. Eng., 2015, 43, 641- 656.

den Boer, D.; Weis, J. G.; Zuniga, C. A.; Sydlik, S. A.; Swager, T. M. “Apparent Roughness as an Indicator of Deoxygenation of Graphene Oxide” Chem. Mater. 2014, 26, 4849- 4855.

Goods, J. B.; Sydlik, S. A.; Walish, J. J., Swager, T. M. “Phosphate Functionalized Graphene with Tunable Mechanical Properties” Adv. Mater., 2014, 26, 718- 723.

de Oliveira, H. P.; Sydlik, S. A.; Swager, T. M. “Supercapacitors from Free-Standing Polypyrrole/ Graphene Nanocomposites” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2013, 117, 10270- 10276.

Sydlik, S. A. “Effects of Graphene and Carbon Nanotube Fillers on the Shear Properties of Epoxies” J. Poly. Sci. Part B: Polym. Phys., 2013, 51, 997- 1006.

Sydlik, S. A.; Lee, J.-H.; Walish, J. J.; Thomas, E. L.; Swager, T. M. “Epoxy-functionalized MWNT for Advanced Adhesives.” Carbon, 2013, 59, 109- 120.

Sydlik, S. A.; Delgado, P. A.; Inomata, S.; VanVeller, B.; Swager, T. M.; Wagener, K. B. “Triptycene-Containing Polyethers via Acyclic Diene Metathesis Polymerization” J. Poly. Sci. Part A, 2013, 51, 1695- 1706.

Sydlik, S. A.; Swager, T. M. “Functional Graphenic Materials via a Claisen Rearrangement” Adv. Func. Mater., 2013, 23, 1873- 1882.

Sydlik, S. A.; Chen, Z.; Swager, T. M. “Triptycene Polyimides: Soluble Polymers with High Thermal Stability and Low Refractive Indices.” Macromolecules, 2011, 44, 976- 980.

Sauve, G.; Javier, A. E.; Zhang, R.; Liu, J.; Sydlik, S. A.; Kowalewski, T; McCullough, R. D. “Well-defined, high molecular weight poly(3-alkylthiophene)s in thin-film transistors: side chain invariance in field-effect mobility” J. Mater. Chem., 2010, 20, 3195.

Zhang, W.; Sprafke, J. K.; Ma, M.; Tsui, E. Y.; Sydlik, S. A.; Rutledge, G.C.; Swager, T. M.; “Modular functionalization of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 8446-8454.