Paper of the month: Microfluidic-supported synthesis of anisotropic polyvinyl methacrylate nanoparticles via interfacial agents

Visaveliya et al. combine microfluidics with bulk batch synthesis to fabricate complex (non-spherical) anisotropic polyvinyl methacrylate (PVMA) nanoparticles (NPs) in a single step.

Τhe properties of polymer nanoparticles are dictated by both structure-property and structure-function relationships however, the importance of particle shape is generally overlooked due to the inherent difficulty to synthesize anisotropic nanoparticles in a single step. Anisotropic colloids are currently produced via multi-step synthesis platforms restrict scaling-up and evaluating as an alternative to the well-established spherical colloidal particles.

To address this issue, Eisele and collaborators developed a single-step, microfluidic-supported synthesis for anisotropic polyvinyl methacrylate (PVMA) nanoparticles that takes advantage of the homogeneous conditions given by microfluidics for the initial emulsification process and of the inhomogeneous conditions provided by bulk batch synthesis for the thermal polymerization. Α monomer with two active polymerization sites (vinyl methacrylate) was used and the impact of interfacial agents including a molecular surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS), anionic polyelectrolytes (poly(sodium 4-styrene sulfonate), PSSS and poly(4-styrene sulfonic acid) ammonium salt, PSSA), a cationic polyelectrolyte (poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride), PDADMAC), and the non-ionic polymer (polyvinylpyrrolidone,PVP) on the shape and size of the produced nanoparticles was systematically evaluated. A direct effect of the identity and the concentration on the shape of the produced nanoparticles was observed and led to a plethora of structures varying from isotropic spherical structures (SDS) to anisotropic elongated (PSSS, PSSA) and flower-like structures (low PVP concentrations) or irregularly shaped assemblies (PDADMAC, high PVP concentrations).

In summary, this study provides a general framework to guide investigations on colloidal polymerization towards predicting nanoparticle shapes below the critical 200 nm regime.

 

Microfluidic-supported synthesis of anisotropic polyvinyl methacrylate nanoparticles via interfacial agents, Polym. Chem., 2022,13, 4625-4633

Link to the paper: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/py/d1py01729b

 

Dr. Kelly Velonia is an Advisory Board Member and a Web Writer for Polymer Chemistry. She joined the Department of Materials Science and Technology in 2007. Research in her group focuses on the synthesis and applications of bioconjugates and biopolymers

You can follow Kelly on twitter @KellyVelonia


 

 

 

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Zachary Hudson

 

 

Zachary M. Hudson is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry at the University of British Columbia. Zac completed his B.Sc. at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He remained at Queen’s to pursue a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Suning Wang, focusing on the development of luminescent materials for organic electronics. During his Ph.D. he also held graduate fellowships at Jilin University in China as well as Nagoya University in Japan. He then moved to the University of Bristol as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Ian Manners, followed by a second Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Nanosystems Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara with Prof. Craig Hawker. He joined the faculty at UBC in 2015, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry. He leads a research program in synthetic materials chemistry, studying topics ranging from solutions for energy-efficient displays and light sources to the self-assembly of electronic materials on the nanoscale. He was the recipient of the ACS Herman Mark Young Scholar Award and Polymer International-IUPAC Award in 2022.

Read Zachary’s Emerging Investigator article, ‘Donor modification of thermally activated delayed fluorescence photosensitizers for organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization’

 

Check out our interview with Zachary below:

1. How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

Polymer Chemistry is the perfect place to read about innovative techniques in polymer synthesis, and we’re excited to contribute an article with a photophysical twist.

 

2. What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

I’m very excited about our work on luminescent polymer dots, or Pdots – nanoparticles that can be bright enough to be detected with a handheld smartphone camera. We’re collaborating with my colleague Russ Algar at UBC to develop nanoparticles for biosensing using smartphones, and translating this to technology that could be used in a healthcare setting represents a major exciting challenge.

 

3. In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

Our current featured article uses organic photosensitizers as catalysts for controlled radical polymerization. In this space, we need to develop highly photostable sensitizers that can perform using visible light irradiation. This is a major challenge, because accessing suitably high-energy excited states using visible light is itself a contradictory requirement.

 

4. Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

I’m a big fan of ‘white space’ in my calendar – time in which nothing is booked, so I have the space to just read or think. The hectic lifestyle of early-career academia combined with our always-connected culture makes it hard to find time to just think about science – schedule it if you have to!

 

 

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Paper of the month: Donor modification of thermally activated delayed fluorescence photosensitizers for organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization

Polgar et al. use donor-modified thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) emitters as photocatalysts for O-ATRP.

O-ATRP has emerged as an attractive alternative to conventional metal-catalyzed ATRP that uses organic compounds that catalyze polymerization under light irradiation instead of the well-studied metal catalysts. Specifically, O-ATRP using thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) emitters as photocatalysts takes advantage of the unique ability of TADFs to interconvert singlet and triplet excited states and has been more recently implemented in diverse fields including organic electronics, photocatalysis, biological imaging, and chemical sensing. TADF emitters mostly contain a twisted donor–π–acceptor (D–π–A) motif which results in a prolonged excited state lifetime and facilitates singlet and triplet energy and electron transfer. Nevertheless, the coexistence of both electron donors and acceptors in photoredox catalysis results in unwanted excited state side reactivity that limits initiator efficiency and might also deactivate the catalyst.

To address this issue, Hudson and collaborators use donor-modified TADF emitters as photocatalysts for O-ATRP. More specifically, TADF photosensitizers based on 9,10-dihydro-9,9-dimethylacridine/2,4,6-triphenylpyrimidine conjugates exhibiting strong visible absorption, large excited state reduction potentials, and long-lived triplet excited states were employed to evaluate catalyst structure–activity relationships. The stability of the radical cation was found to be determining for controlled polymerization, however, significant differences were observed among donor-modified catalysts which were also related to variation in the rates of photoinduced electron transfer (PET). Time-resolved photoluminescence studies of the catalysts supported initiation by electron transfer from both singlet and triplet states while, the functionalized donors possessed the higher driving forces for PET. Through this study, the donor-modified TADF photocatalyst PymDMDMA -bearing a methoxyphenyl substituent- was identified to yield methacrylic polymers with Đ below 1.3 at low catalyst loadings (50 ppm) while also being able to catalyze the controlled synthesis of block copolymers in contrast to the unmodified TADF.

This study explores the ability to design more efficient catalysts by merely altering the types of donors, acceptors and their derivatives and proposes that more efficient catalysts can be designed through theoretical modeling.

Tips/comments directly from the authors:

  • ppm-levels of catalyst are sufficient for the synthesis of polymers with well-defined size, composition, and topology by O-ATRP, potentially obviating the need for post-polymerization purification.
  • Donor-acceptor fluorophores can exhibit thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF), a phenomenon that prolongs the excited state lifetime. The ability to control the lifetime and excited-state reduction potential of TADF emitters makes them versatile photocatalysts for O-ATRP, particularly at low catalyst loadings.
  • A donor-modification strategy was used in this study to mitigate deleterious excited-state side-reactivity associated with the electron-rich donors used in TADF. Rational design of modifying groups can not only enhance the photostability of these dyes, but also provide an extra dimension of control over the excited state reduction potentials and rates of electron transfer in O-ATRP.

 

Donor modification of thermally activated delayed fluorescence photosensitizers for organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization, Polym. Chem., 2022, 13, 3892-3903. 

 

Link to the paper: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/py/d2py00470d

 

Dr. Kelly Velonia is an Advisory Board Member and a Web Writer for Polymer Chemistry. She joined the Department of Materials Science and Technology in 2007. Research in her group focuses on the synthesis and applications of bioconjugates and biopolymers.


 

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Myungwoong Kim

Myungwoong Kim received his B.S. in Chemistry (2002) and M.S. in Physical Chemistry (2004) from Hanyang University under supervision of Prof. Daewon Sohn, then worked for several years in photopatterning materials industry. He completed his Ph.D. in Materials Science (2013) at University of Wisconsin – Madison under supervision of Prof. Padma Gopalan. He then conducted his postdoctoral research in Prof. Christopher K. Ober’s group at Cornell University. In 2015, he joined the Department of Chemistry at Inha University to begin his independent research career. His current research interests include precision polymer synthesis for desired structures and properties, surface and interface engineering, polymeric material designs for micro/nanofabrications, for functional gels, and for understanding polymer dynamics.

Read Myungwoong’s Emerging Investigator article, ‘Comprehensive studies of continuous flow reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer copolymerization and its application for photoimaging materials’

Check out our interview with Myungwoong below:

1. How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

I have enjoyed reading the articles in Polymer Chemistry. I have been impressed by the journal scope, especially respecting and embracing conventional, but fundamental and significant polymer chemistry topics, for example, polymerization kinetics and photopolymer chemistry. However, the journal has also been enthusiastic to publish high quality articles dealing with cutting edge topics. This unique balancing makes me keep following every day and considering Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish.

 

2. What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

For the patterns in single-digit nanometer dimension, the size becomes equivalent to less than ten copolymer chains. In this limit, the homogeneity of the copolymer system gets important to improve the pattern quality, such as line edge roughness. The continuous flow process shown in our work can address this issue; however, it also gave us an important message: the compositional drift due to unequal reactivity between monomers results in an intrinsic compositional inhomogeneity in copolymer samples. This is further related to the fundamental challenging question: “can we precisely control the structure and composition of complex polymers?”.

 

3. In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

How do we precisely control compositional and structural parameters of polymers, for example, sequence, desired chemical functionalities, molecular weight, and its distribution, while the high complexity is attained? Can we produce this elegantly shaped polymer in a large quantity? How are the parameters correlated with the resulting properties, for example, the position of developable unit in the chain vs. the quality of photopattern? Can we expand these challenges to more complex polymeric systems such as crosslinked polymer networks and polymer thin films?

 

4. Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

We all experience failure. No one can become always successful. This should be the case especially for early career scientists including me. I have thought of an inspirational quote that was personally given to me by Prof. Hyuk Yu, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at University of Wisconsin at Madison, and now I am so happy to share this with other early career polymer scientists: “Life and hope are viscoelastic. Failure should take time to restore, but never yield to or break by it. Bend and recover!!!”. This may be the advice given to us by polymer, our lifelong friend, as well.

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Athina Anastasaki

Athina Anastasaki was born and raised in Athens, Greece and obtained her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Athens. She then commenced her PhD studies at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Prof. Dave Haddleton and graduated in late 2014 with the Jon Weaver award for the best PhD in polymer chemistry in the UK. In early 2015, she accepted a Monash-Warwick research fellow position between the Pharmaceutical department at Monash University and the University of Warwick, jointly supervised by Prof. Thomas Davis and Prof. Dave Haddleton. She then received an Elings Fellowship, followed by a Global Marie Curie Fellowship, to conduct research alongside Prof. Craig Hawker at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since January 2019, she is an Assistant Professor at ETH and her group focuses on fundamental polymer synthesis and self-assembly predominantly in the area of controlled radical polymerisation. Athina has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has been the recipient of the ERC starting Grant, the Hanwha-Total IUPAC Young Scientist Award, the Polymers Young Investigator Award and the Golden Owl award, which is in recognition of outstanding faculty teaching. Athina also currently serves as an Associate Editor for Polymer Chemistry. More details about Athina’s lab can be found here https://polymeric.mat.ethz.ch/

You can follow Athina on Twitter @AthinaAnastasa1 and her lab group @AnastasakiLab

Read Athina’s Emerging Investigator article, ‘The effect of surface-active statistical copolymers in low-energy miniemulsion and RAFT polymerization’ 

Check out our interview with Athina below:

1.  How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

I am very excited about publishing our work in Polymer Chemistry and it has always been a very pleasant experience as, even for the negative decisions, the Editors always treat you with respect and professionalism.

2. Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with early career scientists?

What has helped me a lot is asking for support every time I need it without worrying about appearing weak. Finding one (or two) mentors and/or an academic friend makes a huge difference.

 

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Louis Pitet

 

 

Louis M. Pitet is currently an assistant professor at Hasselt University, working in the Institute for Materials Research (IMO), located in Hasselt, Belgium. Louis’ research interests are broadly concerned with understanding processing–structure–property relationships in complex functional polymer constructs. The group has a keen interest in applying the fundamental relationships that are uncovered to global challenges in polymer science, including reutilizing plastic waste streams, creating smart scaffolds for tissue engineering, and improving processing–manufacturing efficiency with advanced reactors. Louis obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the Colorado School of Mines working with Prof. Daniel Knauss. He went on to obtain a PhD in 2011 in the Chemistry department at the University of Minnesota under the supervision of Prof. Marc Hillmyer, exploring the utility of ring-opening metathesis polymerization in creating functional materials. Louis moved to the Netherlands for a post-doctoral fellowship in the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems at the Eindhoven University of Technology, working with Prof. Bert Meijer. In Eindhoven, Louis helped build a program applying dynamic bonding strategies for the construction of well-defined block polymers. Since 2018, Louis has been leading his research group in Hasselt working with a diverse team currently consisting of 6 PhD students and 1 post-doctoral researcher. More details about the group and research topics can be found at www.uhasselt.be/en/onderzoeksgroepen-en/imo-imomec-afp/people/prof-dr-louis-pitet

You can follow Louis Pitet on Twitter @PitetGroup

Read Louis’s Emerging Investigator article ‘Fully biobased triblock copolymers generated using an unconventional oscillatory plug flow reactor’

Check out our interview with Louis below:

How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

I think Polymer Chemistry is a premier journal, well-respected by everyone involved in polymer research. Polymer Chemistry consistently publishes works at the forefront of polymer science, across its diverse range of related topics, and is one of the only journals I routinely browse. The interactions with the editorial board during submission and publication have always been among the best in the publishing world. The speed and professionalism with which our manuscripts are handled is unique and refreshing.

 

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

Polymer scientists currently face a grand challenge to adapt to a global plastic-pollution crisis, with far-reaching implications related to the health of our planet and its diverse communities. Our research is helping to advance polymer materials themselves, and transform the way we make polymers to address these challenges head-on. We do this primarily by developing innovative synthetic technology. This is tremendously challenging, considering the vast diversity of topics and expertise that are involved in polymer science – from synthesis to molecular and physical characterization to processing and reactor design. However, this is also an amazing opportunity to collaborate with an inspiring community of experts across the globe – this is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

 

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Try to find a topic that is not only high impact, but will also hold your interest for a long time. Also, finding activities that energize you outside the lab/office has been invaluable for me in maintaining efficiency and staying engaged with both colleagues and students.

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Junpeng Zhao

Junpeng Zhao received his B.S. (2005) and Ph.D. (2010) from University of Science and Technology of China under the supervision of Prof. Guangzhao Zhang. From 2007 to 2009, he undertook a joint Ph.D. appointment, supported by China Scholarship Council, in National Hellenic Research Foundation (Greece) under the supervision of Prof. Stergios Pispas. Afterwards, he was a postdoctoral researcher first at Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Germany) with Prof. Helmut Schlaad and Prof. Markus Antonietti (2011-2012), and then at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) with Prof. Nikos Hadjichristidis (2012-2014). In early 2015, he joined South China University of Technology and began his professorship. His main research interest is synthetic polymer chemistry, with special focus on anionic polymerization, organocatalytic/metal-free polymerization, and synthesis of polymers from renewable resources. He has been the coauthor of 70 peer-reviewed papers and 15 patents, and the (co)supervisor of 25 master/Ph.D. students.

 

Read Junpeng Zhao’s Emerging Investigator’s article, ‘ Selective ring-opening polymerization of glycidyl esters: a versatile synthetic platform for glycerol-based (co)polyethers

Read our interview with Junpeng below.

 

1. How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

Submitting my work to Polymer Chemistry ensures a pleasant reviewing process as well as timely publication.

 

2. What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

What I am most excited about at the moment is the strict but readily tunable chemoselectivity of two-component organocatalysts which enables precise and convenient synthesis of an increasingly large variety of functional and/or complex polymers. What I have found most challenging is understanding polymerization mechanism, without disproving it soon after.

 

3. In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

How can we avoid major side effects when trying to make the world a better place using synthetic polymers? What can we learn from nature about designing and tailoring polymer structures and functions?

 

4. Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

New successes may hide in experiments which seem to have failed at first glance.

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Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigator- Mingjun Huang

Mingjun Huang obtained his B.S. at Peking University in 2010. Then he worked on macromolecular self-assembly with Prof. Stephen Z.D. Cheng at the University of Akron, and obtained his PhD degree in Polymer Chemistry in 2015. After that he moved to MIT and joined the Jeremiah Johnson group as a postdoc, working on battery electrolyte material development. From February 2019, Mingjun started his independent career in South China University of Technology (SCUT). He is currently a professor in South China Advanced Institute for Soft Matter Science and Technology & School of Emergent Soft Matter. He mainly focuses on the novel functional soft matter development within the scope of optics, electric, and energy storage. The main research projects involve: 1) Liquid crystals/liquid crystal polymers with unprecedented structures and properties for applications in optical and electric materials; 2) Self-assembly study of macromolecules with precise chemical structures in condensed states; 3) Design of functional polymer materials for specific needs in display technology and microelectronic industry.

 

Read Mingjun Huang’s Emerging Investigator’s article ‘ Perfluorocyclobutyl-containing transparent polyimides with low dielectric constant and low dielectric loss

Read our interview with Mingjun below.

 

1. How do you feel about Polymer Chemistry as a place to publish research on this topic?

In my mind, Polymer Chemistry is a leading polymer journal for design, synthesis, structure and property study of polymer materials. Particularly for polyimide research, novelty for chemical structure as well as excellent material property is usually required. I feel a great sense of achievement for publication of this topic on this journal.

 

2. What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment and what do you find most challenging about your research?

As a polymer chemist, I am most excited about the successful collection of the new polymer samples, after a long journey of monomer design, synthesis and polymerization. I prefer to design monomer structures with simplicity and functionality.

In my research of polyimide materials, the most challenging part is the monomer structure design, i.e. how to balance the polymerization reactivity and targeted functionality in new monomer structure. Obtaining rather high purity of new monomers is also not an easy task for this step polymerization.

 

3. In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?

Polyimides have great potentials for applications in microelectronic industry or flexible display technology. In my opinion, the most important question is how to integrate all the required high performances (e.g. good processibility, high transparency, low dielectric, high glass transition temperature, high thermal degradation stability) in one single material through either chemical structure or composite formulation tuning. A shortage in any important material property would prevent its practical application.

 

4. Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

I believe in-depth discussions with senior people in similar research area would be very helpful for seeking the entry point or inspiration of new ideas.

 

 

 

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Open call to submit your plastics research to our cross-journal themed collections on ‘Plastic Conversion’ and ‘Polymer Upcycling’

The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced an open call to submit your plastics research to our themed collections on ‘Plastic Conversion’ and ‘Polymer Upcycling’.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is committed to sustainable plastics research and has published a policy statement regarding plastic waste. With increasing impact of plastic waste on the environment, it is necessary to research ways in which we can have a sustainable future for plastics.

Plastics research is interdisciplinary and involves a wide range of chemical scientists. As such, we invite you to contribute to our cross-journal themed collections by submitting your work to Journal of Materials Chemistry A, B, C, Polymer Chemistry or Catalysis Science & Technology.

 

Plastic Conversion

Joint themed collection between Polymer Chemistry and Catalysis Science & Technology

 

 

 

Catalysts have been the main driver for the design of ever new polymers with highly diverse and specialized properties. In this themed issue, we aim to highlight research that makes use of catalysis to optimize the reverse. How can we get the most value out of plastic waste? In this quest, we especially welcome manuscripts that address the challenges unique to plastics. These include but are not limited to additive impurities; mixed polymer streams; how to contact the very viscous, high molecular weight polymer with the (micro-)porous catalyst or a cleavage agent and more broadly catalytic conversion of sustainable polymeric materials for a circular plastic economy. Unconventional approaches via photo-, electro- or mechano-catalytic approaches and combinations thereof are also very welcome. We highly encourage to place the work in the context of performance metrics of green chemistry.

Submissions should fit the scope of either Polymer Chemistry or Catalysis Science & Technology. We would suggest that articles focused on synthetic and polymer chemistry aspects would be best suited to Polymer Chemistry, whereas articles focused on catalytic and/or related methodological advances would be appropriate for Catalysis Science & Technology. The collaborative joint special issue recognizes that management of plastic wastes relies on research conducted at the intersection of polymer chemistry and catalysis. You may submit to whichever journal you feel is most relevant to your current research. Please note that your article may be offered a transfer to the alternate journal if deemed more appropriate by the handling editor.

 

For more information, visit our open calls page

 

Guest Edited by:

Professor Ina Vollmer (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Professor George Huber (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Professor Haritz Sardon (POLYMAT, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Spain) and Professor Zhibo Li (Qingdao University of Science and Technology, China)

Submit your work to Polymer Chemistry or Catalysis Science & Technology now!

 

Polymer Upcycling

Joint themed collection between Journal of Materials Chemistry A, B and C

In 2015 alone, the global waste generated by plastic packaging applications was 82.7 metric tons (Mt). Currently, waste management practices for the end-of-life plastics exploit landfilling, industrial energy recovery from municipal solid waste incineration, pyrolysis and recycling. Due to the ubiquity and necessity of plastics in our daily life, the elimination or reduction of plastics is not foreseeable in the near future and fundamentally new science is needed to describe and understand the polymers, interfaces, decomposition and upcycling of plastics. This Themed Collection aims to explore the latest developments in materials characterization, polymer design and synthesis, physical chemistry and molecular understanding of plastic decomposition and transformation that contribute to a broad knowledge base for upcycling waste plastics.

Submissions should fit within the scope of  Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Journal of Materials Chemistry B or Journal of Materials Chemistry C. We welcome high quality studies across all fields of materials chemistry in the form of full Papers, Communications and Review-type articles (Reviews, Highlights or Perspectives) and we invite authors to select the journal that best suits their submission.

 

For more information, visit our open calls page

 

Guest Edited by:

Blair Brettmann (Georgia Institute of Technology), Marco Fraga (Instituto Nacional De Technologia Brasil), Monika Gosecka (Polish Academy of Sciences) and Natalie Stingelin (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Submit your work to Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Journal of Materials Chemistry B or Journal of Materials Chemistry C now!

 

If you would like to contribute to either of these themed collections, you can submit your article directly through the journal’s online submission service. Please add a “note to the editor” in the submission form when uploading your files to say that this is a contribution to the respective themed collection. The Editorial Office reserves the right to check suitability of submissions in relation to the scope of the collection, and inclusion of accepted articles in the final themed collection is not guaranteed.

If you would like more information about the ‘Polymer Upcycling’ themed collection, please email Materials-rsc@rsc.org. For more information about the ‘Plastic Conversion’ themed collection, please email Polymers-rsc@rsc.org.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and showcasing this important research in our collections.

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Paper of the month: Supramolecularly cross-linked nanoassemblies of self-immolative polyurethane from recycled plastic waste: high encapsulation stability and the triggered release of guest molecules

Santra et al. use recycled plastic-waste derived monomers to synthesize a redox-responsive self-immolative amphiphilic polyurethane nanoassembly.

 

 

Polymeric nanoparticles have undeniably found numerous applications in fields ranging from medicine to nanoelectronics. Despite the significant progress in the area, there is an increasing demand in chemotherapeutics to construct polymeric nanoassemblies able to encapsulate and deliver cargo on-demand. Most polymeric nanocarriers suffer from uncontrolled disassembly leading to premature, non-specific guest release while often; guests need to be covalently entrapped to achieve high encapsulation stability.

To address these issues, Molla and collaborators developed a strategy that allows upcycling plastic waste to synthesize a redox-responsive, self-immolative amphiphilic polyurethane that assembles into robust, tightly packed nanoassemblies with high encapsulation efficiency and stability. More specifically the upcycled-plastic nanocontainers were equipped with aromatic moieties enhancing their stability, disulfide bonds offering redox response and tertiary amines inducing charge tunability. Triethylene glycol monomethyl ether units were periodically incorporated on the polymer to enhance hydrophilic interactions with water. Computational studies supported that the high encapsulation stability observed in these polyurethane nanocarriers stems from supramolecular cross-linking via π–π stacking and H-bonding interactions. Notably, in a redox environment 70 % of guest release was obtained from the self-immolative polyurethane nanocarriers while significantly reduced release was observed in polymers lacking the disulfide linker and polymers lacking the aromatic component.  The high encapsulation stability was supported by the low leakage coefficient measured in FRET experiments. Pleasingly, zeta potential measurements revealed the generation of nanoassemblies with positive surface charge at a tumor extracellular matrix relevant pH was attributed to the tertiary amine component.

In summary, a plastic waste derived monomer was used as a basis to create robust self-immolative polyurethane nanocarriers with promising biomaterial characteristics such as biocompatibility, triggered release, and environment-specific charge modulation.

Mijanur Rahaman Molla et al., Supramolecularly cross-linked nanoassemblies of self-immolative polyurethane from recycled plastic waste: high encapsulation stability and the triggered release of guest molecules, Polym. Chem., 2022, 13, 3294-3303.

Link to the paper: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/PY/D2PY00341D

 

 

 

Dr. Kelly Velonia is an Advisory Board Member and a Web Writer for Polymer Chemistry. She joined the Department of Materials Science and Technology in 2007. Research in her group focuses on the synthesis and applications of bioconjugates and biopolymers.

You can follow Kelly on twitter @KellyVelonia


 

 

 

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