College of Science

Chemistry student’s article is named one of 2020’s best by prestigious journal


CLEMSON, South Carolina – A paper that a Clemson University chemistry student first-authored is on the 2020 HOT articles list featured by the journal Materials Advances.

Charini Maladeniya’s article titled “A role for terpenoid cyclization in the atom economical polymerization of terpenoids with sulfur to yield durable composites” is among 26 papers and review articles selected by the journal’s editors.

Headshot of Charini Maladeniya
Charini Maladeniya’s research involved terpene derivatives, which are readily available from many plants, bacteria and algae sources.

Maladeniya’s research focuses on improving the sustainability of building materials.

“We prepared building materials using sulfur and plant-derived terpenoids as a substitution for cement. The new building materials show significant strength and high acid resistance. More importantly, it is a renewable, recyclable material. These materials can also improve the acid resistance of Portland cement,” said Maladeniya, a graduate student in the College of Science’s Department of Chemistry.

Portland cement is a basic ingredient in concrete.

Chemistry professor Rhett Smith explained that Maladeniya uncovered a previously overlooked mechanism for terpenoid cyclization during radical-involving polymerization routes.

“Her discovery should prove insightful to a range of researchers interested in terpenes as sustainable materials,” said Smith, who is Maladeniya’s mentor.

Maladeniya came to Clemson from Gampaha, Sri Lanka.

Other authors of the paper, published in August, are Menisha Karunarathna, Moira Lauer, Claudia Lopez, Timmy Thiounn and Smith.

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