Insights from the authors of ‘Enhancing microplastic capture efficiencies with adhesive coatings on stainless-steel filters’

 

To celebrate the growth and development of the RSC Applied Polymers community and to highlight the remarkable authors who continue to contribute their high quality work to the journal we would like to share the opinions and insights of these authors through this introductory blog post. Once dubbed #RSCAppliedfirst50, our blog posts aim to give a voice to the authors behind the research and hope that their insights might shed light upon growing challenges and progress in polymer science and its applications.

In this post we feature insights into ‘Enhancing microplastic capture efficiencies with adhesive coatings on stainless-steel filters‘ by Malavika Ramkumar

 


Insights into ‘Enhancing microplastic capture efficiencies with adhesive coatings on stainless-steel filters‘  by Malavika Ramkumar.

 

Please provide a brief summary of the research carried out in the paper.

“The goal was to capture microplastics using an adhesive-coated stainless-steel filter. Within this context,
we evaluated several adhesives, substrate architectures, and coating methods, and ultimately identified
poly(2-ethylhexyl acrylate) as the best adhesive when applied via dip-coating onto a stainless-steel mesh
filter. The capture efficiencies were evaluated with different types and sizes of microplastics, which was
analyzed using flow cytometry. To demonstrate that this filter can successfully capture microplastics under
real-world conditions, the optimized filter was tested using microplastic concentrations similar to what is
found in drinking water.”

How do polymers play a key role in this application?

“The adhesives used in the filter are polymers, and of course, the microplastics are polymers as well. We
varied the chemical structure of the adhesives to optimize the relevant intermolecular interactions
(hydrophobic and van der Waals) between the adhesive/microplastic as well as the adhesive/stainless
steel. Notably, high capture efficiencies were only achieved when the adhesive is present (compared to the
uncoated stainless-steel filter).”

How has your research developed over time?

“In 2021, we reported microplastics capture from water using adhesive-coated zirconium silicate beads.(1)
However, we noticed that the adhesive was shedding and clumping between the beads over time when
exposed to water. Therefore, in this new work, we switched to stainless-steel beads and found that they
attenuated this adhesive migration. In addition, to increase surface area, we switched to a stainless-steel
mesh filter, rationalizing that its webbed network might increase microplastics capture. Finally, while our
2021 reported utilized relatively high microplastic concentrations (1 mg per milliliter), in this new work, we
used extremely low concentrations (0.01 mg per liter), similar to that found in drinking water.”
(1) P. T. Chazovachii, J. M. Rieland, V. V. Sheffey, T. M. E. Jugovic, P. M. Zimmerman, O. Eniola-Adefeso,
B. J. Love and A. J. McNeil, ACS EST Engg., 2021, 1, 1698–1704.

What are the next steps for this research?

“We are most interested in accelerating microplastic capture rates, improving capture efficiencies, and
simplifying the filter system. As an example, we are currently targeting high capture efficiencies with just a
single pass through the filter.”

What have been some of the greatest challenges faced in your research?

“Developing technologies to remove micro- and nanoplastics from drinking water is an important area of
research to minimize human consumption, yet there are many challenges. For example, it can be difficult
to get an accurate count as the micro- and nanoplastics are small and their concentrations are low. In this
work, we used flow cytometry and a stereomicroscope for our analysis, however, both have limitations. We
continue to explore alternative approaches.”

What other areas of research do you find particularly exciting?

“I think chemists, and in particular polymer chemists, have a lot of opportunities to think about how we can
contribute to alleviating the societal burdens of plastic waste (including micro- and nanoplastic pollution).
We can invent new materials, new or improved recycling processes, capture and repurpose microplastics,
and more. We need all the creative scientists out there thinking about unique and useful solutions.”

 


 

Malavika Ramkumar

Malavika Ramkumar

Malavika Ramkumar

Malavika Ramkumar is a Chemistry PhD candidate in Prof. Anne McNeil’s group at the University of Michigan. Her current research focuses on quantifying and characterizing microplastics in groundwater. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Malavika obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from Shiv Nadar University in India. However, she gained most of her undergraduate research experience by working in Prof. Hatsuo Ishida’s group at Case Western Reserve University, OH, where she developed green polybenzoxazines for various applications.

Woojung Ji

Woojung Ji

Woojung Ji

Dr. Woojung Ji was a postdoctoral research associate in Prof. Anne McNeil’s group at the University of Michigan from 2021-2023 where she worked on developing adhesives to capture microplastics from water. She obtained her PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University in 2021 under the guidance of Prof. William Dichtel. Before joining Northwestern, she obtained a B.S. in chemistry from Trinity College. Woojung is now a research scientist at Samsung SDI R&D.

Henry Thurber

Henry Thurber

Henry Thurber

Henry Thurber is currently a PhD student working under Prof. Anne J. McNeil in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Program at the University of Michigan. He received his B.S. in Materials Engineering from Iowa State University. Before coming to Michigan, he worked on biobased polymeric materials for food packaging under Prof. Greg Curtzwiler. Currently, his research focuses on microplastic remediation from drinking water.

Madeline Clough

Madeline Clough

Madeline Clough

Madeline Clough obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Central Michigan University, where she worked to develop pharmaceuticals to treat atherosclerosis. She is now a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. Under the guidance of Professor Anne McNeil, Madeline’s current research focuses on the sampling and analysis of atmospheric microplastics in the state of Michigan.

Sarena Chirdon

Sarena Chirdon

Sarena Chirdon

Sarena Chirdon received her B.S.E. Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan in 2024. She was an undergraduate research student with Prof. Anne J. McNeil, where she worked on microplastics capture using novel adhesives. Currently, Sarena is preparing to enter law school to pursue a J.D. and become a practicing attorney in the field of environmental law.

Anne McNeil

Anne McNeil

Anne McNeil

Prof. Anne McNeil is the Carol A. Fierke Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, where she is also a member of the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Program and the Program in the Environment. Her research is focused on sustainable materials, with interests in the chemical recycling of waste plastics, renewable energy storage in redox flow batteries, as well as measuring and removing microplastics in the environment.

 

 


RSC Appl. Polym., 2024,2, 456-460

Graphical abstract: Enhancing microplastic capture efficiencies with adhesive coatings on stainless-steel filters

 


RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Meet the authors of ‘Inherent limitations of the hydrogen-bonding UPy motif as self-healing functionality for polymer electrolytes’

To celebrate the growth and development of the RSC Applied Polymers community and to highlight the remarkable authors who continue to contribute their high quality work to the journal we would like to share the opinions and insights of these authors through this introductory blog post. Once dubbed #RSCAppliedfirst50, our blog posts aim to give a voice to the authors behind the research and hope that their insights might shed light upon growing challenges and progress in polymer science and its applications.
In this post we feature an introduction to ”Inherent limitations of the hydrogen-bonding UPy motif as self-healing functionality for polymer electrolytes’ by Cuc Thu Mai, Harish Gudla, Guiomar Hernández, Kristina Edström and Jonas Mindemark.

 


 

An Introduction to ‘Inherent limitations of the hydrogen-bonding UPy motif as self-healing functionality for polymer electrolytes‘  by Cuc Thu Mai, Harish Gudla, Guiomar Hernández, Kristina Edström and Jonas Mindemark.

 

In our latest publication in RSC Applied Polymers, we explore the combined effects of self-healing ureido pyrimidinone (UPy) groups and electrolyte salts on the mechanical properties of polymer electrolytes. Self-healing properties are well-known for materials from the biomedical field, but are highly desirable also for next-generation electrolyte materials for energy storage applications. This is, for example, highlighted in the roadmap of the European project Battery2030+, where the integration of smart functionalities such as sensing and self-healing can enhance the safety and lifetime of rechargeable batteries.
The inclusion of hydrogen-bonding UPy groups is known to be an effective means of introducing dynamically cross-linking and self-healing capabilities in polymer materials. However, it is perhaps not so straightforward to realize such functions in a battery environment, which is fundamentally different from a biological one. Indeed, in the paper we demonstrate that the addition of electrolyte salt causes the hydrogen-bonding network to be disrupted by interactions with the ions, thereby canceling out the effect of the UPy groups on the mechanical properties of the material. Unfortunately, this renders the material mechanically unsuitable for use as a solid polymer electrolyte. One important question emanating from this work is whether this is specific for the UPy group or if it applies also to other hydrogen-bonding self-healing groups. It may well be so that hydrogen-bonding groups are inherently unreliable at high salt concentrations, motivating work into other means of introducing self-healing functionality instead, such a dynamic covalent bonds.

 


 

Cuc Thu Mai

Cuc Thu Mai

Cuc Thu Mai is currently a battery material scientist at NOVO Energy AB in Sweden. Her work focuses on the development of advanced polymeric materials used as binders, separators and coatings on electrodes to allow longer usage time and faster charging batteries for EVs.

Harish Gudla

Harish Gudla

Harish Gudla is a postdoctoral researcher at the Ångström Advanced Battery Centre at Uppsala University. His primary research focus lies in multi-scale modeling of polymer electrolyte materials for Li-ion batteries.

Guiomar Hernández

Guiomar Hernández

Guiomar Hernández is an assistant professor at the Ångström Advanced Battery Centre at Uppsala University. Her research is focused on fluorine-free electrolytes, solid polymer electrolytes and functional polymers towards safer and more sustainable next-generation batteries.

Kristina Edström

Kristina Edström

Kristina Edström is a professor at the Ångström Advanced Battery Centre at Uppsala University. Her research focuses on self-healing aspects and the SEI/CEI interfaces in lithium and sodium batteries and on solid state batteries.

Jonas Mindemark

Jonas Mindemark

Jonas Mindemark is an associate professor at the Ångström Advanced Battery Centre at Uppsala University. With a background in polymer chemistry, his research focus is now on the development and fundamental understanding of next-generation solid and liquid electrolytes.

 

 

 


RSC Appl. Polym., 2024,2, 374-383

 

Graphical abstract: Inherent limitations of the hydrogen-bonding UPy motif as self-healing functionality for polymer electrolytes

 


RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Welcome to our Advisory Board!

Introducing our inaugural Advisory Board for RSC Applied Polymers

We are delighted to introduce the inaugural Advisory Board for RSC Applied Polymers! Please welcome 59 internationally renowned researchers working across all applications of natural and synthetic polymers.

This Word Cloud represents keywords from the top 500 articles published by our Advisory Board members in the last 5 years, and it is a great visual demonstration of the scope of the journal.

Representing a range of career stages, subject expertise, we are grateful to welcome Advisory Board members from across 17 countries across the globe. They include both established and emerging leaders with impactful work addressing the application of polymers to address societal challenges. We look forward to their help informing the journal’s future activities.

The full list of who is on board can be found on the journal webpage here.

 

 

Read some of their articles published in RSC Applied Polymers here.

 

RSC Applied Polymers offers you an impactful platform for research focussing on the application of polymers, both natural and synthetic.

Read the first issues online here a find out more by visiting our webpage or contacting our Editorial Office by email. Make sure you never miss an update – sign up for our e-alerts and follow us on X and LinkedIn.

Meet the Authors – ‘3D printed modular piezoionic sensors using dynamic covalent bonds’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

 

In this post we feature an introduction to 3D printed modular piezoionic sensors using dynamic covalent bonds by Alshakim Nelson et al.

 


 

An Introduction to 3D printed modular piezoionic sensors using dynamic covalent bonds  by Alshakim Nelson et al.

In our newest publication in RSC Applied Polymers, we demonstrate 3D printed piezoionic sensors that can be configured based on the needs of the individual user. Elastomeric ionogels comprising reversible Diels-Alder connections were 3D printed using a commercial printer. 3D printing allows the user to determine the geometrical shape of the printed object. However, the 3D printed objects described in this paper are also covalent adaptive networks, which enables self-healing and interfacial bonding between objects. As a result, these piezoionic sensors are durable and can be fused into any desirable configuration. Our work showcases the important features of decentralized production using additive manufacturing. Primarily, the individual user has greater control over the design and deployment of active devices in the locations where they are required.

 


Julian Smith Jones

Julian Smith Jones

 

Julian Smith-Jones received his PhD from the University of Washington where he conducted research on the synthesis and characterization of ionic liquid gels as a platform for creating conductive elastomeric sensors in the Nelson lab. He is currently working as a polymer chemist at Meta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nathan Ballinger

Nathan Ballinger

 

 

Nathan Ballinger is a chemistry graduate student at Caltech who did undergraduate research at the University of Washington in Seattle. His undergraduate research in the Nelson Lab focused on stimuli responsive ion-gels and hydro-gels for additive manufacturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naroa Sadaba

Naroa Sadaba

 

 

Naroa Sadaba is a postdoctoral researcher in the Nelson lab at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research focuses on biomaterials for additive manufacturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xabier Lopez de Pariza

Xabier Lopez de Pariza

 

 

 

 

Xabier Lopez de Pariza is a postdoctoral researcher at Polymat-University of the Basque Country in San Sebastian (Spain). His research interests include sustainable polymers and vat photopolymerization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yunxin Yao

Yunxin Yao

 

 

 

 

Yunxin Yao is a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Duke University under the guidance of Prof. Stephen L. Craig. Her research primarily focuses on investigating the correlation between microscopic chemical reactions and the macroscopic mechanical properties of polymer networks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Craig

Steven Craig

 

 

 

 

Stephen Craig is a Professor of Chemistry at Duke University and the Director of the NSF Center for Molecularly Optimized Networks (MONET).  His research interests are centered around chemical reactivity that is embedded within polymeric materials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haritz Sardon

Haritz Sardon

 

 

Haritz Sardon is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Basque Country-POLYMAT in San Sebastian. His research combines sustainability aspects with additive manufacturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alshakim Nelson

Alshakim Nelson

 

 

Alshakim Nelson is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. His research includes stimuli-responsive and polymeric materials for additive manufacturing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


3D printed modular piezoionic sensors using dynamic covalent bonds

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article. DOI:10.1039/D3LP00289F

 


RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Meet the authors – ‘Assessing the performance of sustainable luminescent solar concentrators based on chemically recycled poly(methyl methacrylate)’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

 

In this post we feature an introduction to Assessing the performance of sustainable luminescent solar concentrators based on chemically recycled poly(methyl methacrylate) by Alberto Picchi, Marco Carlotti, Andrea Pucci et al.

 


 

An Introduction to Assessing the performance of sustainable luminescent solar concentrators based on chemically recycled poly(methyl methacrylate) by Alberto Picchi, Marco Carlotti, Andrea Pucci et al.

 

Sunlight concentration is one of the most straightforward means to improve the performances of photovoltaics and reduce the extension of the modules needed to produce a certain quantity of energy.

Compared to large parabolic systems that find applications in solar fields, other solar concentration methods are better suited for urban areas, such as Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs). Visually, LSCs resemble glass panels with bright fluorescent colours and luminescent sides. They utilize fluorescent molecules or particles to absorb and re-emit solar radiation, concentrating it towards the device’s edges thanks to an optical phenomenon called total internal reflection. There, thin photovoltaic cells, as vast as the small thickness of the panel, convert this light into electricity.

Amorphous polymers like polycarbonates or polyacrylates, known to serve as excellent substitutes for glass due to their high transparency and mechanical strength, are also ideal matrices for application in LSCs. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), in particular, offers additional advantages such as low cost, an optimal refractive index to waveguide light, and the possibility of hosting several luminescent materials without affecting their optical performances.

The large-scale adoption of this technology – which in urban areas and as visually appealing build-in photovoltaics in buildings – would cause the introduction in the market of a significant amount of plastic, the environmental production impact of which cannot be overlooked, especially since it is higher than that of the attached photovoltaics modules.

One advantage of PMMA is that it can be recycled through thermal depolymerization processes, which regenerate the initial monomer (methyl methacrylate, MMA) with high efficiency and little impurities.

The use of regenerated MMA, instead of virgin monomer, for the production of Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs) could reduce the impact of production by about 75% and make it possible to imagine a circular life cycle of these devices without increasing costs. However, impurities can drastically affect the performances and lifetime of the devices, making this approach ineffective.

In this study, Alberto Picchi, Marco Carlotti and Andrea Pucci from the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry at the University of Pisa, in collaboration with I&S Srl, explored the possibility of using recycled monomers instead of virgin ones to fabricate LSC plates, making this technology more accessible and sustainable. In particular, they found that, while characteristic impurities or regenerated monomers do not seem to affect performances, they promote the photodegradation process, shortening the devices’ expected lifespan. During the investigation, they also identified the main substance responsible for this effect, which will need to be removed from the recycled monomer to fabricate devices capable of spanning more than 10 years.


 

 

 

Alberto Picchi

Alberto Picchi

 

 

Mr. Alberto Picchi is a Ph.D. student in Chemistry and Materials Science at the University of Pisa (Italy). He obtained his MChem (2019) from the same institution. Alberto’s research focuses on developing luminescent devices based on recycled polymers for harvesting solar and artificial light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marco Carlotti

Marco Carlotti

 

 

Dr Marco Carlotti obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) in 2019, and he is currently an Assistant Professor at the Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale of the University of Pisa (Italy) and a Scientific Collaborator at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy). His research revolves around the use of smart polymeric systems for energy application and in microfabrication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Pucci

Andrea Pucci

 

 

Prof. Andrea Pucci is a full professor of industrial chemistry and the Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale at the University of Pisa (Italy). His scientific interests are expressed in polymer science, with particular attention to the preparation of mono-or multiphase polymer (nano)systems with functional properties for applications as chromogenic materials responsive to external stimuli of various kinds or for applications in the energy field. Since November 2016, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is now serving as Associate Editor of the RSC Advances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Assessing the performance of sustainable luminescent solar concentrators based on chemically recycled poly(methyl methacrylate)

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/D4LP00067F

 

 

 


RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Meet the Authors- ‘Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

In this post we feature an introduction to Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective by Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay and Sayan Basak

 


An Introduction to Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective by Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay and Sayan Basak

 

Hydrogel actuators, characterized by their exceptional capacity to undergo shape deformations in reaction to external stimuli, occupy a prominent position within the domain of materials science, representing a significant potential to revolutionize numerous applications. Ranging from soft robotics to biomedical engineering, the adaptability and versatility of these actuators are widely recognized. Notably, among the array of designs, bilayer-based hydrogel actuators emerge as particularly noteworthy, demonstrating elaborate 2D and 3D shape alterations in response to various stimuli.

Central to the functionality of hydrogel actuators are polymers, which establish three-dimensional networks capable of retaining substantial quantities of water. These polymers serve as the foundation for structural integrity and responsiveness to environmental stimuli, thereby rendering hydrogel actuators biocompatible, permeable, and adaptable. By employing engineering methodologies to manipulate polymer compositions and architectures, researchers can customize desired attributes such as anisotropy. This tailored approach enhances the operational efficacy and controllability of hydrogel actuators across a spectrum of applications, spanning from drug delivery systems to advancements in soft robotics.

Our investigation delves into the detailed features of bilayer-based hydrogel actuators, elucidating their biomimetic designs derived from natural tissues and organs. We examine successful applications across domains including drug delivery, soft robotics, and biomedical engineering, demonstrating the adaptability and promise inherent in these actuators. While challenges persist in attaining precise control over bidirectional motions, recent progress indicates encouraging developments and lays the groundwork for forthcoming innovations.

Looking ahead, there remains an ongoing pursuit for multifunctional hydrogel actuators adept at responding to diverse stimuli with precision and reliability. Addressing challenges within complex environments, particularly underwater scenarios, continues to drive the exploration of innovative fabrication techniques and materials. Collaboration across disciplinary boundaries stands as a pivotal factor in unlocking the full potential of hydrogel technology, as insights drawn from materials science, robotics, and biology converge to shape the future of actuator design.

In the forthcoming years, the emergence of novel fabrication methodologies is anticipated to significantly contribute to the advancement of smart structures. One promising avenue lies in the exploration of patterned structures, inspired by the intricate designs found in nature. Certain botanical structures, for instance, exhibit intriguing shape transitions upon dehydration, and emulating such patterns could unveil new possibilities for hydrogel actuators. Photolithography emerges as a potent tool in this endeavour, facilitating the creation of hydrogel sheets featuring chemically distinct regions. This approach enables preprogramed large-scale 3D shape transitions, mirroring the intricate behaviours observed in natural systems. The introduction of visible patterns, such as those achieved through UV-reduction of graphene oxide, introduces an additional layer of complexity, endowing hydrogel actuators with multiresponsive 3D complex deformations. This expansion of capabilities enhances the versatility and potential applications of hydrogel actuators.


 

 

Dr Bandyopadhyay

Dr Bandyopadhyay

 

Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay is currently a full Professor in the Department of Polymer Science & Technology at University of Calcutta, member of the Senate and the Technical Director at South Asia Rubber and Polymers Park, West Bengal. He is the former Head of the Department and the member of the Syndicate of this University. He is a National Scholar, has received Young Scientist Award in 2005 from Material Research Society of India and Career Award for Young Teachers in 2010 from Govt. of India for his contribution in teaching and research in various domains of polymer and rubber science and technology. He has published more than 110 research papers in reputed international journals, filed two Indian patents and delivered several Plenary, Key Note and Invited lectures in International and National conferences and Faculty Development Programs. He has authored six books so far. He has done both Government and Industry sponsored research projects and offered Industrial consultancies regarding development of several products. He has supervised 12 research students so far for obtaining their Doctorate degree and 10 more are currently doing their research under his supervision. His research interest includes polymer blends and composites, polymer nanocomposites, hyperbranched polymers and polymer 3D printing.

 

 

 

 

Sayan Basak

Sayan Basak

 

 

Sayan Basak completed his B.Tech. in Polymer Science and Technology at the University of Calcutta and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Akron, USA specializing in smart polymers. His research focused on shape memory and functional elastomers, aligning with his undergraduate studies. Currently, he works as a research investigator at Biocon India, contributing to the chemical development team. He remains an active collaborator with the Bandyopadhyay group at the University of Calcutta, where he focuses on stimuli-responsive polymers, polymer nanocomposites, and biobased architectural polymers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article. DOI:10.1039/D4LP00089G

 

 

 

 

 


RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Hear from our Authors: Dr Michael Cunningham and Raz Abbasi with ‘Crosslinking CO2-switchable polymers for paints and coatings applications’

 

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this, we asked the authors of our first 50 articles, to discuss their work in some more detail.

In this edition, we hear from Dr Michael Cunningham and Raz Abbasi , about their study entitled ‘Crosslinking CO2-switchable polymers for paints and coatings applications’

 

 

Want to know more about their work? Read the full paper here!


 

Dr Michael Cunningham

Dr Michael Cunningham

 

Michael Cunningham is a Professor in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University with a cross appointment to the Department of Chemistry. He held an Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering. His research program focusses on the development of novel polymer nanoparticles, sustainably-sourced polymeric materials including hybrids of synthetic polymers and renewable polymers, and CO2-switchable materials. He is Chair of the International Polymer Colloids Group and recipient of several national research awards including the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering Award, Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Award, and the Syncrude Canada Innovation Award, as well as the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research and the Professional Engineer’s Ontario Research and Development Medal. He is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada and, Canadian Academy of Engineering and Engineering Institute of Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

Raz Abbasi

Raz Abbasi

 

 

Raz Abbasi is a PhD candidate in the Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University. Raz received her master’s in Polymer Engineering from the Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute (IPPI). Her current research is focused on exploring the application of CO2-switchable materials and chemistry in the enhancement of paints and coatings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Crosslinking CO2-switchable polymers for paints and coatings applications
Raz Abbasi, Amy Mitchell, Philip G. Jessop and Michael F. Cunningham

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024,2, 214-223 DOI: 10.1039/D3LP00186E

Graphical abstract: Crosslinking CO2-switchable polymers for paints and coatings applications

 

 


 

 

 

RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

 

Find out more about the journal

Read our first articles

Submit your manuscript today

Sign up for email alerts

Follow us on social media 

 

Meet the Authors – ‘A bioinspired approach to reversibly metal binding interfaces’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

In this post we feature an introduction to ‘A bioinspired approach to reversibly metal binding interfaces’ written by Agnes Morrisey, Laura Delafresnaye and Christopher Barner-Kowollik et al.

 


An Introduction to A bioinspired approach to reversibly metal binding interfaces by Agnes Morrisey, Laura Delafresnaye and Christopher Barner-Kowollik et al.

Flooding events are becoming more extreme and frequent due to climate change, including in this team’s home city of Brisbane, Australia, where devastating 2011 and 2022 floods of the Brisbane river brought the city to a standstill and adversely affected the livelihoods of many of its residents. These events cause substantial problems with regard to water contamination, especially with heavy metals, making recovery efforts challenging. However, regular rainfall events also cause continued issues for water contamination. Thus, creative solutions to treat and purify storm water are urgently required. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has partnered with ROCKWOOL-Lapinus to pioneer new strategies for urban storm water treatment, exploiting similar chemistry that marine animals like mussels use to attach themselves to surfaces such as rocks under often extreme conditions. Polymers play a critical role in the current research project, as the way in which mussels adhere to surfaces is by forming a cross-linked, sticky polymer network based on dopamine derivatives. Many studies in the past have been inspired by this natural adhesive mechanism, as it allows adhesion to a very wide range of substrates. Thus, for the current study, the team opted for a dopamine-based adhesion strategy, too.

Previously, the removal of heavy metals from wastewater has been based on conventional methods, which often exhibited a series of shortcomings such as the production of toxic byproducts, high energy consumption, biofouling and high cost. The university/company partnership introduces a materials system that is capable of effectively coating surfaces, while concomitantly allowing metal ions to be removed from aqueous solutions. Specifically, the consortium prepared a bioinspired polymeric system, which can readily crosslink in aqueous solution with effective adhesion onto 2D and 3D surfaces. The perhaps most challenging part of the project was to synthesize the molecule that contained both the adhesive units that are able to crosslink upon increasing the pH of the aqueous environment, while at the same time carrying a ligand molecule that is capable of capturing a wide range of metals, ideally reversibly. At the same time, the team required a simplified system that allowed them to rapidly confirm if the adhesion was successful both on the planar silicon surfaces and – more importantly – on the actual stone wool slabs that are used in the real-world storm water management application. For this purpose, the team also designed an adhesive system that carries a chemically clearly visible marker during surface analysis, i.e. bromine.

The binding surfaces were carefully assessed towards their long-term stability, metal ion binding efficiency and recoverability via surface sensitive analytical methods including Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, which are powerful surface analytical tools that allow the spatially resolved mapping of functionalities on surfaces. The versatility and effectiveness of the approach make these bioinspired materials highly attractive candidates for applications for the use in robust urban storm water treatment systems. The system is currently undergoing engineering assessment to explore real-world implementation, where the team conducts long term water flow testing over larger modified stone wool units, including their regeneration by removing the captured metal ions. Given the universal nature of the adhesion system, the team is actively exploring how to capture other pollutants from urban storm water.

The researchers in the project love working together, as it combines expertise from organic chemistry, industrial chemistry and chemical engineering, to tackle a problem that effects millions of people worldwide.


 

Agnes Morrissey

Agnes-Morrisey.

Agnes Morrisey.

 

Agnes Morrissey obtained a bachelor’s degree in 2019 and master’s degree in 2021 in chemistry from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, working with Prof Ulrich Schubert on self-healing and dynamic materials. In 2020, during her master’s studies she undertook a research project under supervision of Filip Du Prez as part of her Erasmus semester at Ghent University working on vitrimers. In 2022, she joined QUT’s Soft Matter Materials Laboratory for her doctoral studies under supervision of Distinguished Prof Christopher Barner-Kowollik. Her research focusses on exploring new interfaces for wastewater treatment as part of an industrial collaborative project with ROCKWOOL. In 2023, as part of this collaborative project Agnes conducted an internship stay at ROCKWOOL, the Netherlands, to gain experience in industry applied research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vishakya Jayalatharachchi

Vishakya Jayalatharachchi

Vishakya Jayalatharachchi

 

Vishakya Jayalatharachchi graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the College of Chemical Sciences, Sri Lanka in 2014. Following this, she pursued her Master’s degree in Applied Sciences at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and graduated in 2016, subsequently commencing her doctoral studies. Under the supervision of Profs. Josh Lipton-Duffin and Jennifer MacLeod, Vishakya completed her PhD in 2021 in the Surface Science group at QUT. Her doctoral research focused on the assembly and reactions of carboxylic acids on metal-passivated silicon, studied under ultra-high vacuum system. Following the completion of her PhD, Vishakya joined the Soft Matter Materials group at QUT as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2022, under the supervision of Distinguished Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik. During this time, she contributed to a collaborative project aimed at understanding the materials and rockwool fiber interfaces. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral researcher at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. She works with Professor Dr. Sabine Maier in Experimental Physics group studying the molecular self-assembly and on- surface reactions with atomic precision.

 

 

 

 

Lukas Michalek

Lukas Michalek

Lukas Michalek

 

Lukas Michalek is a Walter Benjamin Postdoctoral Fellow with an interdisciplinary background that bridges chemistry, materials science, and engineering. His research interests center on leveraging advanced characterization techniques, molecular design, and theory to gain fundamental insights into soft matter. Lukas specializes in probing soft matter materials and polymer structures at surfaces and interfaces. During his PhD at the Queensland University of Technology, he developed novel methodologies for precisely characterizing material properties on surfaces under the supervision of Prof Christopher Barner-Kowollik (graduated 2020). As a postdoc at Stanford University, he applies his expertise to understand polymeric materials for emerging flexible electronics applications and is developing advanced characterization methodologies under the guidance of Prof Zhenan Bao. Lukas is combing polymer chemistry with advanced analytical instrumentation like atomic force microscopy to elucidate structure-property relationships. His interdisciplinary skills allow him to connect molecular-level understanding to real-world applications.

 

 

 

 

Prasanna Egodawatta

Prasanna Egodawatta

Prasanna Egodawatta

 

Associate Professor Prasanna Egodawatta is a water and environmental engineer at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has over 20 years of experience in both industry and academia. Prasanna’s recent research is focused on stormwater engineering, particularly in the environmental monitoring of toxic pollutants. Notably, his investigations into the fate and distribution of PFAS in urban environments and transformation and degradation processes of PAHs and heavy metals have emphasized the concealed risks associated with Australian waterways. Prasanna has empowered the scientific community to better manage toxic pollutant levels in urban water systems by developing predictive equations, innovative modelling techniques, and comprehensive risk assessment tools. So far, Prasanna has co-supervised 21 PhD projects to completion and produced over 150 research outputs, including seven authored books and 101 journal articles. Prasanna has also been involved in research projects with authorities such as the City of Logan and the City of Gold Coast and major corporations such as Urban Utilities, Port of Brisbane Corporation and Brisbane Airport Corporation.

 

 

 

 

Neomy Zaquen

Neomy Zaquen

Neomy Zaquen

 

Neomy Zaquen is a Chemical Engineer, who graduated from the University of Technology, Eindhoven the Netherlands in 2012. She started her career by pursuing a PhD in chemistry at Hasselt University, Belgium, in the lab of Prof. Tanja Junkers. She joined the groups of Prof. Cyrille Boyer and Prof. Per Zetterlund at the University of New South Wales in 2017 on a Marie Curie fellowship, where she worked on the implementation of polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) reactions in batch and flow. At the end of 2018, she moved back to the Netherlands, where she started working in product development, at ROCKWOOL. Once acquainted with the stone wool products, the market and its customers, she became Product Manager, where she combines her technical knowledge with current market trends. At the same time, she graduated an executive master of Marketing and Management, at TIAS School for Business and Society, the Netherlands, in 2022. Currently, she is working as Strategy and Business Development Manager, thereby mapping strategic possibilities and looking into future markets for ROCKWOOL.

 

 

 

 

Laura Delafresnaye

Laura Delafresnaye

Laura Delafresnaye

 

Laura Delafresnaye completed a dual engineering degree in chemistry and an MSc in polymer chemistry in 2012 at ESCPE/University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France. During her academic journey, Laura gained practical experience as a junior engineer for a year at Bluestar Silicones (now Elkem) in Barcelona, Spain. Following this, she pursued her master’s thesis in 2012, which focused on controlled radical polymerization, at the laboratory of Catalysis, Polymerization, Process, and Materials (CP2M, Lyon, France). In 2013, she continued her academic pursuits with a PhD, collaborating with Solvay, focusing on the synthesis of polymer/clay nanocomposites film-forming latexes, also conducted in the same laboratory. In 2017, Dr. Delafresnaye joined the Soft Matter Materials Laboratory at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) under the guidance of Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik. Since then, she has developed her expertise in photochemistry, particle synthesis, and chemiluminescence. She assumed the role of Head of Laboratory Operations, and was promoted to the role of Research Coordinator for Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik in 2019. Notably, she secured an Australian Research Council Linkage grant in 2020, collaborating with the industrial partner Rockwool-Lapinus, and a Discovery grant in 2022.

 

 

Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Christopher-Barner-Kowollik

Christopher-Barner-Kowollik

 

A graduate in chemistry from Göttingen University, Germany, Christopher joined the University of New South Wales in early 2000 rising to lead the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design in 2006 as one of its directors. He returned to Germany to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in 2008, where he established and led a German Research Council-funded Centre of Excellence in soft matter synthesis. Following a period as an adjunct professor at QUT, he moved to QUT in early 2017 and established QUT’s Soft Matter Materials Laboratory, now one of the world’s premier macromolecular laboratories. Over his 24-year career, he attracted over $50M in funding, working at the interface of photo- and macromolecular chemistry using light as a finely-gated tool to control reactivity in multi-color reaction modes. He authored over 780 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals (cited over 47 000 times). Christopher’s research achievements have been recognized by an array of national and international awards including the coveted Centenary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Belgian Polymer Medal, the Erwin-Schrödinger Award by the German Helmholtz Association, the United Kingdom Macro Medal as well as national awards by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of New South Wales, an ARC Professorial Fellowship and a Laureate Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

 

 

 


A bioinspired approach to reversibly metal binding interfaces

Agnes C. Morrissey,  Vishakya Jayalatharachchi, Lukas Michalek, Prasanna Egodawatta, Neomy Zaquen, Laura Delafresnaye and Christopher Barner-Kowollik

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article DOI: 10.1039/D4LP00010B

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.

Congratulations to the prize winners at UoN Polymer Symposium 2024

The University of Nottingham Polymer Symposium 2024 (UoN Polymer Symposium 2024) took place in Nottingham, UK on 22 March 2024. RSC Applied Polymers and Polymer Chemistry were pleased to support poster prizes at this event and we would like to congratulate our winners!

Photo of UoN Polymer Symposium 2024 opening remarks.

Photo of UoN Polymer Symposium 2024 opening remarks.

Learn more about the prize winners below:

Photo of RSC Applied Polymers Poster Prize winner James Wilford Caruana.

RSC Applied Polymers Poster Prize

James Wilford Caruana (University of Nottingham)

James Wilford Caruana, holding a Bachelors in Chemistry and Material Science from the University of Malta and a Masters in Bioengineering from the University of Nottingham. At Baxter Global, my focus was on renal and critical pediatric care, where I served as a Senior Medical Affairs Specialist from 2021 to 2022. Currently, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nottingham with the Centre for Additive Manufacturing and Irvine Group. My project focuses on the multi-material additive manufacturing of imageable pediatric medical devices.

Photo of Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize winner Valena (Eleni ) Axioti.

Polymer Chemistry Poster Prize

Valena (Eleni) Axioti (University of Nottingham)

My name is Eleni Axioti, but I go by Valena. A chemist with a master’s degree in Cosmetic Science (Liverpool John Moores University), I’m currently in the second year of my PhD at the University of Nottingham. My research focuses on developing sustainable polymers for biomedical applications, particularly in the drug delivery area, under the supervision of Dr. Vincenzo Taresco. I’ve always been fascinated by the chemistry behind cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations. After years working as a beauty advisor, pharmaceutical assistant, completing a related internship at the University of Bologna (Italy), two placements in leading cosmetic industries, and a job as a pharmaceutical analyst, I’m ready to explore new opportunities in the academic world! In my free time, I enjoy traveling and sharing skincare advice on my Instagram page.

We’d like to congratulate all the prize winners once more, it’s a great achievement for their work to be selected from all the excellent research presented at the event. We’d also like to thank all organisers, especially Dr Vincenzo Taresco and Dr Valentina Cuzzucoli Crucitti, for organising this conference.

Meet the Author – ‘PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

In this post we feature an introduction to ‘PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds’ written by Dr Anthony Convertine.


An Introduction to ‘PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds’ by Dr. Anthony Convertine

Dr. Anthony Convertine and his research team at Missouri University of Science and Technology are developing a new 3D printing technique known as PISA Printing, as detailed in their publication “PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds” in RSC Applied Polymers. This method combines Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly (PISA) with controlled RAFT polymerization to create complex, high-resolution structures from biocompatible materials. The technique allows for the production of scaffolds that can replicate the detailed architecture of vascular tissues, achieving resolutions around 22 microns. With ongoing efforts to improve the diversity of materials used and the precision of the printing process, their research aims to enhance the capabilities of tissue engineering, potentially offering new avenues for medical treatments and regenerative medicine.

In our recent publication, “PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds,” we explore the application of Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly (PISA) printing within the realm of 3D printing technology.. The paper outlines how Controlled Radical Polymerization, particularly RAFT polymerization, can be integrated with DLP printers to fabricate detailed, high-resolution biomedical scaffolds. Our findings reveal that PISA printing can create intricate structures, essential for replicating the complex microenvironment of natural tissues.

Polymers are crucial in this process, acting as the base material for printing these structures. We utilize Chain Transfer Agent (CTA) functionalized polymers to enable the self-assembly of nanostructures into solid forms, bypassing the need for traditional chemical crosslinking. This approach not only streamlines the manufacturing process but also produces materials that are both biocompatible and capable of controlled degradation within the body.

A notable achievement of our research is reaching printing resolutions of up to 22 microns, a significant advancement for tissue engineering efforts that require the precise replication of vascular networks. Furthermore, our study emphasizes the critical role of multifunctional CTA design in improving the mechanical strength of the printed scaffolds, thereby supporting cellular growth and tissue development.

Looking ahead, our team is committed to enhancing the PISA printing technique by investigating a broader selection of polymers and functionalization methods to boost scaffold functionality. We’re also aiming to extend the use of PISA printing to the creation of organ-specific scaffolds, seeking collaborations with stem cell and organ modelling specialists to achieve these ambitious objectives.

 


 

Dr Anthony Convertine

Dr Anthony Convertine

 

 

Behind this research is Dr. Anthony Convertine, the Roberta and G. Robert Couch Assistant Professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Southern Mississippi under the advisement of Professor Charles McCormick, specializing in controlled RAFT polymerization. He then moved to the University of Washington where he conducted postdoctoral research under Professors Patrick Stayton and Allan Hoffman in the department of Bioengineering. The focus of his postdoctoral studies was to develop pH-responsive polymers to facilitate the intracellular delivery of biologic drugs (i.e. siRNA, mRNA, peptides, antibodies).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds
A. Priester, J. Yeng, Y. Zhang, R. Wang and A. J. Convertine

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article.

DOI:10.1039/D3LP00252G

Graphical abstract: PISA printing from CTA functionalized polymer scaffolds

 


 

 

RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.