Author of the Month: Prof. Jianzhong Du

Prof. Jianzhong Du is currently leading a polymer chemistry research group at Tongji University, Shanghai, China. He received his PhD from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2004, and then moved to the University of Sheffield as a postdoctoral fellow with Steve Armes. He held an Alexander von Humboldt research fellow position in Germany in 2006 before moving to Cambridge University in 2008 where he worked as a research associate with Rachel O’Reilly. He was appointed as an ‘Eastern Scholar’ professorship in 2009 and set up his own research group at Tongji University in 2010. His research interests include the synthesis, self-assembly and applications of smart and functional polymers, with a particular interest in polymer vesicles (polymersomes). Currently, he is focusing on the synthesis of designer polymeric materials for water remediation, biocatalysis, biomacromolecules delivery, and antibacterial delivery vehicles (“armed carriers”).

Research website: http://web.tongji.edu.cn/~jzdu/English/index.html

What was your inspiration in becoming a chemist?

In my eyes my mother is a natural “chemist”. As a young child my first inspiration to become a chemist was my mother’s fantastic home-made food—Tofu and sweet malt. I enjoyed helping her harvest soya beans in the field and seeing how she made delicious Tofu for us at home. It was really exciting to witness how the yellow soya beans turned into white Tofu after drying, smashing (by me!), dispersion in boiling water, filtration (to form soya bean milk), flocculation by calcined gypsum (actually I didn’t know it was CaSO4 until I learned basic chemistry in middle school), and further filtration to remove excess water (sometimes I stood on the board on top of the Tofu to accelerate this process!). The procedure for making sweet malt at home is much more complicated than Tofu but I mastered it before the age of ten. Those traditional Chinese food technologies have thousands of years of history but are full of principles from modern chemistry. My mother carried out those complicated “chemical reactions” based on experience (no measuring tools needed). It was a task full of fun and curiosity for a young boy to participate in. At that time I didn’t know any chemical principles but could see the excellent “results” achieved by my mother. After learning chemistry, I gradually understood why gypsum should be calcined before adding it to the soya bean milk, how Ca2+ interacts with protein to form Tofu, and the magic power of green malt in making sweets starting from rice. I think it is the everyday chemistry in my childhood that inspired me to become a chemist.

What was the motivation to write your Polymer Chemistry article? ( DOI: c4py00501e)

Our group has an active program in the synthesis and self-assembly of homopolymers. Compared with well-investigated block copolymers, homopolymers have been considered as a non-ideal building block for self-assembly due to their fuzzy boundary between hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties. However, we think this unique fuzzy boundary may provide some new opportunities in both self-assembly mechanisms and preparation of functional nanomaterials. Furthermore, it is a challenge to self-assemble hydrophilic homopolymers in pure water into nanostructures. Therefore, we incorporated one terminal alkynyl group into hydrophilic homopolymers to drive their unusual self-assembly in aqueous solution to form a range of nanostructures such as multicompartment vesicles, spherical compound micelles and flower-like complex particles.

Why did you choose Polymer Chemistry to publish your work?

Polymer Chemistry is an excellent forum for scientists working in a wide range of sectors, especially for polymer chemists. More and more people are reading this journal. The editorial and publishing teams are well-organised and the dissemination time is short.

In which upcoming conferences may our readers meet you?

National Congress of Chinese Chemical Society 2014 in Beijing and Macro 2014 in Thailand

How do you spend your spare times?

I have an eight year old son who is learning piano and badminton. So in my spare time, I am his piano and badminton training partner. My hobbies include Chinese traditional literature, jogging and cooking.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

If not a chemist I would be a writer or a network engineer.


How does a tiny terminal alkynyl end group drive fully hydrophilic homopolymers to self-assemble into multicompartment vesicles and flower-like complex particles?

Polym. Chem., 2014,5, 5077-5088, DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00501E


Cyrille Boyer is a guest web-writer for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently an associate professor and an ARC-Future Fellow in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of New South Wales (Australia) and deputy director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine.



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Author of the Month: Dr Elodie Bourgeat-Lami

Dr. Elodie Bourgeat-Lami graduated in 1988 from the National School of Chemistry of Mulhouse, France, and received a Masters degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Haute Alsace. She obtained her PhD degree in 1991 from the University of Montpellier II, Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, France, on the Study of the Physicochemical and Catalytic Properties of Zeolite Beta. Following her doctorate, she joined CNRS as a junior scientist. Currently, she is CNRS research director at the Laboratory of Chemistry, Catalysis, Polymers and Processes (C2P2) located at the Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon (CPE) in Villeurbanne, France. Her research interests are focused on the fundamental and practical aspects involved in the synthesis of organic/inorganic colloidal materials with special emphasis on radical polymerization in dispersed media, surface functionalization of mineral oxide particles and sol-gel chemistry. Her research also includes activities on the synthesis of novel hybrid macromolecular architectures through controlled radical polymerization (CRP) and on the implementation of CRP techniques in aqueous dispersed media for the design of novel hybrid functional colloids for various types of applications.

What was your inspiration in becoming a chemist?

Being a chemist was not a vocation I initially intended but rather a decision that imposed itself incidentally. However the idea of being a researcher always appealed to me and I remember specifically having mentioned it as something I wanted to do while I was completing my PhD dissertation. Things then really kicked off for me and I have been truly lucky. Research is lot more than a vocation, it is a passion!

What was the motivation to write your Polymer Chemistry article?

RAFT polymerization has received increasing attention within the past decade due to the versatility, simplicity and robustness of this technique. Quite recently, RAFT has been extended to the elaboration of organic/inorganic hybrid materials, notably in aqueous dispersed media. The reported strategies mainly aim at forming an encapsulating polymer shell around inorganic particles and so far little attention has been paid to the living character of the polymerization. This work follows our previous study on the encapsulation of CeO2 particles via this technique (Zgheib et al. Polymer Chemistry 2013, 4, 607), and was intended to demonstrate the benefits of this macroRAFT-mediated process to control the growth of organic monomers in ab initio emulsion polymerization systems and attain particle morphologies that are otherwise difficult to achieve. It is part of a larger collaborative research project currently under way in our laboratory, dedicated to the synthesis of organic/inorganic anisotropic particles using this strategy.

Why did you choose Polymer Chemistry to publish your work? (DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00362D)

Polymer Chemistry currently ranks as one of the most important journals for polymer science. From the beginning, it has benefited from a high impact factor, which highlights the attention that its articles receive from the scientific community. Submitting our work to reputable journals is important for us to ensure its maximum exposure within the polymer world and to hopefully encourage further breakthroughs in the area.

In which upcoming conferences may our readers meet you?

I will very likely attend the fourth international conference on multifunctional hybrids and nanomaterials in Sitges (Spain) (March 9-13, 2015). This conference takes place every two years and is a highlight for everyone working on hybrid materials.

How do you spend your spare time?

I love traveling, hiking and exploring the world. One of my favorite hobbies is taking photos and capturing the magic of wonderful places and moments surrounded by family and friends. I also love sports, decorating my house by mixing traditional and modern styles, and spending long periods of time in the stillness of nature to energize myself.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

When I was 18, I wanted to be a lawyer or an architect. As a researcher, I often have the opportunity to write or evaluate projects and defend them like a lawyer. In those moments, I can freely express my advocacy skills! The chemist, as the architect of matter, can design and create very complex structures. Creating novel nanoparticles or complex colloidal systems as building blocks for new materials and functions is not like building a house but one can certainly find some analogies…


Synthesis of multi-hollow clay-armored latexes by surfactant-free emulsion polymerization of styrene mediated by poly(ethylene oxide)-based macroRAFT/Laponite complexes

Thiago Rodrigues Guimarães, Thaissa de Camargo Chaparro, Franck D’Agosto, Muriel Lansalot, Amilton Martins Dos Santos and  Elodie Bourgeat-Lami

Polym. Chem., 2014, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00362D

Abstract: This paper reports the surfactant-free emulsion polymerization of styrene mediated by a trithiocarbonate poly(ethylene oxide)-based macromolecular RAFT agent  in the presence of Laponite clay platelets.



Cyrille Boyer is a guest web-writer for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently an Associate Professor, an ARC-Future Fellow in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of New South Wales (Australia), member of CAMD and deputy director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine (ACN).



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Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize Winner at Macromex 2014

Congratulations to Dr Alejandro Giminez, the Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize Winner at Macromex 2014

Congratulations go to Dr Alejandro Gimenez who won the Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize at Macromex 2014, which was held on the 3-6 December 2014 in Nuevo Vallarta, Jalisco, México. Alejandro received a year’s subscription to Polymer Chemistry, which will help him keep up to date with the most exciting developments in the field.

Alejandro is based in Mexico at CINVESTAV, the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute. His research interests lie in materials science, carbon nanotubes and surfactant science and technology.

Alejandro J. Gimenez Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize Winner

Dr Alejandro J. Gimenez, left, receiving his Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize from Prof Brent Summerlin

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Paper of the week: Pristine and thermally rearranged gas separation membranes

Pinnau et al present the pristine and thermally rearranged gas separation membranes.

A novel o-hydroxyl-functionalized spirobifluorene-based diamine monomer, 2,2′-dihydroxyl-9,9′-spirobifluorene-3,3′-diamine (HSBF), was successfully prepared by a universal synthetic method. Two o-hydroxyl-containing polyimides, denoted as 6FDA-HSBF and SPDA-HSBF, were synthesized and characterized. The BET surface areas of 6FDA-HSBF and SPDA-HSBF are 70 and 464 m2 g−1, respectively. To date, SPDA-HSBF exhibits the highest CO2 permeability (568 Barrer) among all hydroxyl-containing polyimides. The HSBF-based polyimides exhibited higher CO2/CH4 selectivity than their spirobifluorene (SBF) analogues (42 for 6FDA-HSBF vs. 27 for 6FDA-SBF) due to an increase in their diffusivity selectivity. Polybenzoxazole (PBO) membranes obtained from HSBF-based polyimide precursors by thermal rearrangement showed enhanced permeability but at the cost of significantly decreased selectivity.

Pristine and thermally-rearranged gas separation membranes from novel o-hydroxyl-functionalized spirobifluorene-based polyimides by Xiaohua Ma, Octavio Salinas, Eric Litwiller and Ingo Pinnau* Polym. Chem., 2014,5, 6914-6922.

DOI: 10.1039/C4PY01221F

Remzi Becer is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and the director of the Polymer Science and Nanotechnology masters programme at Queen Mary, University of London. Visit www.becergroup.com for more information.

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Paper of the week: Oximes as reversible links in polymer chemistry

Sumerlin et al presented the preparation of dynamic star shaped polymers using oximes as reversible links.


Summerlin and his co-workers have demonstrated the formation of oxime-functional macromolecular stars that are able to dissociate and reconstruct themselves upon application of a stimulus. The reversible nature of the oxime bond in the presence of externally added alkoxyamines or carbonyl compounds enables reconfiguration via competitive exchange. Reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization was utilized to prepare well-defined amphiphilic block copolymers in which a hydrophobic keto-functional block allowed self-assembly into micelles in water. Adding a difunctional alkoxyamine small molecule to these solutions resulted in crosslinking of the micelles to yield macromolecular stars. The reversible nature of the O-alkyl oxime linkages was demonstrated via competitive exchange with excess of carbonyl compounds or monofunctional alkoxyamine under acidic conditions and at elevated temperatures to result in dissociation of the stars to unimolecular oxime-functional polymer chains.

Oximes as reversible links in polymer chemistry: dynamic macromolecular stars by Soma Mukherjee, Abhijeet P. Bapat, Megan R. Hill and  Brent S. Sumerlin Polym. Chem., 2014,5, 6923-6931.

Remzi Becer is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and the director of the Polymer Science and Nanotechnology masters programme at Queen Mary, University of London. Visit www.becergroup.com for more information.

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Paper of the week: Fluorescent PEGylation agent by a thiolactone-based one-pot reaction

One pot preparation of fluorescent PEGylated proteins by a thiolactone reaction to be used in theranostic applications has been reported by Tao et al.

Theranostic combinations usually contain an imaging, a therapeutic and a cloaking component to simultaneously fulfil diagnostic and therapeutic functions. Using upgraded PEGylation technology, a straightforward one-pot strategy based on thiolactone ring-opening has been developed to facilely synthesize a multifunctional PEGylation agent, fluorescent protein-reactive poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), which can subsequently react with a model therapeutic protein to form a fluorescent PEGylated protein as a model of sophisticated theranostic combinations.

Fluorescent PEGylation agent by a thiolactone-based one-pot reaction: a new strategy for theranostic combinations by Yuan Zhao, Bin Yang, Yaling Zhang, Shiqi Wang, Changkui Fu, Yen Wei and   Lei Tao Polym. Chem., 2014,5, 6656-6661

Remzi Becer is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and the director of the Polymer Science and Nanotechnology masters programme at Queen Mary, University of London. Visit www.becergroup.com for more information.

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GFP 2014 Saint Malo Best Oral presentation Winner

Congratulations to Lucie Imbernon, who was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Polymer Chemistry prize for the best oral presentation at the GFP 2014 congress.

GFP 2014 RSC Polymer Chemistry Oral Presentation Prize Winner

Lucie Imbernon receives her prize for the best Oral Presentation from Jean-Luc Audic at the GFP 2014- Saint Malo Congress

Lucie Imbernon receiving her Best Oral presentation prize at Groupe Français des Polymeres (GFP) 2014. The young PhD student winner was delighted with her gift certificate and will enjoy reading Polymer Chemistry thanks to the year’s subscription provided by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Lucie’s presentation was based on her PhD research and titled “Immiscible Blends of Epoxidized Natural Rubber: a Way to achieve Semi-Interpenetrating Networks.” She is part of the Soft Matter and Chemistry group at the ESPCI Paris-Tech-CNRS, PSL Research University in Paris. An overview of Lucie’s work is outlined in the abstract below:

“Directly obtained by epoxidation of Natural Rubber (NR), Epoxidized Natural Rubber (ENR) is a unique elastomer widely used in the industry. ENR retains most of the properties of natural rubber, in particular high tensile properties and resistance to crack propagation up to 50 mol% epoxidation. While keeping the advantages of NR, ENR presents a new reactive functionality. Our group recently showed the possibility to crosslink this elastomer by reaction with a dicarboxylic acid (DA). The DA molecules react with the epoxy groups, producing β hydroxy-esters along the chain.

Here, we show that different grades of ENR are immiscible and that the polar crosslinker DA is more soluble when the level of epoxidation increases. Because the curing rate is faster with more epoxidized grades of ENR, we selectively crosslinked blends of immiscible ENRs presenting different levels of epoxidation (ENR10 and ENR50).The morphology of the resulting material can be tuned from nodules of crosslinked ENR50 dispersed in a soft ENR10 matrix to a semi-interpenetrating continuous network giving rise to elastomeric properties (see figure below).”

Mechanical properties of the blends linked with their morphology

Mechanical properties of the blends linked with their morphology

Lucie’s work led to the publication of “Crosslinking of epoxidized natural rubber by dicarboxylic acids: An alternative to standard vulcanization” and “Semi-interpenetrating Networks in Blends of Epoxidized Natural Rubbers” last year in Macromolecular Symposia and Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics respectively.

GFP 2014 took place on 3rd – 6th November 2014 in Saint Malo and was the 43rd National Conference organised by the Groupe Français d’études etd’applications des Polymères.  It’s aim was to bring together around 200 researchers from different backgrounds, countries, universities, public research institutions and industries to discuss the latest advances in the field of polymers.

For the latest Polymer Chemistry news follow us on Twitter @PolymChem

Check out the latest Polymer Chemistry articles.

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Author of the Month: Jürgen Liebscher

Professor Jürgen Liebscher graduated from Technical University Dresden, Germany where he also obtained his PhD and habilitation (1977).  From 1979 till 1982 he held the position of Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and joined the Department of Chemistry, Humboldt-University Berlin later on, where he is professor of organic chemistry. Since 2010 he has been Senior Researcher I and project leader at the National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies (IN CDTIM) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Assoc. Professor at Babes Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. His research interests are widespread ranging from organic synthesis, bioorganic chemistry (nucleic acid-lipid conjugates, amino acids), catalysis, peroxide chemistry, heterocycles to pharmaceutically active compounds. For 10 years he has mainly been involved in the field of materials, i. e. magnetic core-shell nanoparticles, where he entered polymer chemistry, in particular polymers with functional groups for various applications (catalysis, biological recognition, separation, drug transport and delivery).

Links to his research groups are:  http://www.itim-cj.ro/~liebscher/ (and before at Humboldt-University Berlin:  http://fakultaeten.hu-berlin.de/mnf1/mitarbeiter/4125.)

What was your inspiration in becoming a chemist?

I had an excellent chemistry teacher (Erhard Matthes) at high school in Freital, Germany, who made me highly interested in this field. I still remember some highlights (tasting synthetic urea, distillation of alcoholic drinks, where half of the class was tipsy before we even started the experiment, explosion of phosphorous-perchlorate mixture, preparation and investigations of simple polymers). He is now 91 years old and a dear friend of mine with whom I still enjoy exciting discussions during our visits. I like chemistry because of its interaction of practical experiments with theoretical backgrounds. It is exciting to have an idea, to go to the laboratory and get it verified experimentally. Because most of the ideas do not work, it makes the final success even more attractive. Chemistry is also interesting to me because of its potential of practical application, to find something that is useful in our society. In this respect, interdisciplinary research is essential and challenging. I learned a lot and shaped my scientific profile much by such collaborations as I learned from lecturing students in advanced organic chemistry courses.

What was the motivation to write your Polymer Chemistry article?

Our group got new insight into the structure of polydopamine, a material which after its invention by Messersmith et al. in 2007 is in the focus of contemporary research. We succeeded to provide experimental proof by spectroscopic methods that this material contains primary amino groups, which hitherto were not exploited for interesting synthetic modifications. Recently we found that polydopamine even acts as an organocatalyst, i.e. it is not an innocent polymer. As we learned from the responce of reviewers to our publication manuscripts not everybody shared our opinion. The successful diazo transfer reaction to dopamine reported in our Polymer Chemistry article is further unambiguous experimental proof for the existence of primary amino groups in polydopamine. In addition, it opens a way to link a variety of interesting functions (catalytic, biological, complex forming) to polydopamine via click chemistry (CuAAC). It further allows Janus like systems with at least two different functions connected to polydopamine.

Why did you choose Polymer Chemistry to publish your work?

Polymer Chemistry is a journal of high quality. It attracts a wide readership by covering chemistry and the polymer field. We find that scientists who are interested in our results will be reached by this journal. The time between submitting the manuscript and receiving the decision about its acceptance is usually very short thanks to the well organized editorial and production team.

In which upcoming conferences may our readers meet you?

4th International Conference on Multifunctional, Hybrid and Nanomaterials, March 2015, Sitges (near Barcelona), Spain.

How do you spend your spare time?

I dedicate most of my free time to my 1 year old son. When he gets a bit older I will return to my hobbies such as enjoying nature, hiking, biking and classical concerts.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a chemist?

It is hard for me to imagine another profession which would give me so much satisfaction. Maybe, I would choose biochemistry, biology or eventually medicine.


Diazo transfer at polydopamine – a new way to functionalization

Polym. Chem., 2014, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00670D


Cyrille Boyer is a guest web-writer for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently an associate professor and an ARC-Future Fellow in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of New South Wales (Australia) and deputy director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine.

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Paper of the week: Functional α,ω-dienes via thiol-Michael chemistry

The preparation of functional α,ω-dienes via thiol-Michael chemistry including synthesis, oxidative protection, acyclic diene metathesis (ADMET) polymerization and radical thiol–ene modification has been reported by Lowe et al.


The synthesis of the novel α,ω-diene 2-(undec-10-en-1-yl)tridec-12-en-1-yl acrylate is described. Thiol-Michael coupling of this substrate followed by chemoselective oxidation of the thioether moiety with triazotriphosphorine tetrachloride (TAPC) furnished a suite of functional and symmetrical ADMET-active monomers in a quick and convenient manner. Polymerization of these adducts with Grubbs 1st generation catalyst (RuCl2(PCy3)2CHPh) was demonstrated to high conversion, and quantitative radical initiated thiol–ene modification of the backbone C[double bond, length as m-dash]C bonds was performed to impart additional functionality to each ADMET polymer. These reactions highlight the compatibility of thiol-based click chemistries for the preparation and post-modification of functional ADMET materials.

Functional α,ω-dienes via thiol-Michael chemistry: synthesis, oxidative protection, acyclic diene metathesis (ADMET) polymerization and radical thiol–ene modification by Johannes A. van Hensbergen, Taylor W. Gaines, Kenneth B. Wagener, Robert P. Burford and  Andrew B. Lowe Polym. Chem., 2014, 5, 6225-6235.

Remzi Becer is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and the director of the Polymer Science and Nanotechnology masters programme at Queen Mary, University of London. Visit www.becergroup.com for more information.

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Paper of the week: Ethanol biosensors based on conducting polymers with peptide and ferrocene on the side chain

The synthesis and characterization of conducting polymers containing polypeptide and ferrocene side chains as ethanol biosensors has been reported by Yagci and Toppare et al.

This paper describes a novel approach for the fabrication of a biosensor from a conducting polymer bearing polypeptide segments and ferrocene moieties. The approach involves the electrochemical copolymerization of the electroactive polypeptide macromonomer and independently prepared ferrocene imidazole derivative of dithiophene, on the electrode surface. The polypeptide macromonomer was synthesized by the simultaneous formation of N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) and ring opening polymerization of N-Boc-L-lysine (α-amino acid of the corresponding NCA) using an amino functional bis-EDOT derivative (BEDOA-6) as an initiator. Alcohol oxidase was then covalently immobilized onto the copolymer coated electrode using glutaraldehyde as the crosslinking agent. The intermediates and final conducting copolymer before and after enzyme immobilization were fully characterized by FT-IR, 1H-NMR, GPC, cyclic voltammetry, SEM and EIS analyses. The newly designed biosensor which combined the advantages of each component was tested as an ethanol sensing system offering fast response time (9 s), wide linear range (0.17 mM and 4.25 mM) and low detection limit (0.28 mM) with a high sensitivity (12.52 μA mM−1 cm−2). Kinetic parameters KappM and Imax were 2.67 mM and 2.98 μA, respectively. The capability of the biosensor in determining ethanol content in alcoholic beverages was also demonstrated.

Synthesis and characterization of conducting polymers containing polypeptide and ferrocene side chains as ethanol biosensors by Melis Kesik, Huseyin Akbulut, Saniye Söylemez, Şevki Can Cevher, Gönül Hızalan, Yasemin Arslan Udum, Takeshi Endo, Shuhei Yamada, Ali Çırpan, Yusuf Yağcı and Levent Toppare Polym. Chem., 2014, 5, 6295-6306.

Remzi Becer is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and the director of the Polymer Science and Nanotechnology masters programme at Queen Mary, University of London. Visit www.becergroup.com for more information.

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