Materials World Network: Temperature and Chemical Responsive Polymer Surfaces: Towards the Molecular Design of Intelligent Materials

Project: Research project

Project Details


This international collaboration is a partnership between the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and three institutions in Greece: the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH, Herakleion), the National Center of Scientific Research 'Demokritos' (NCSR, Athens) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH,

Thessaloniki). Through this partnership, a diverse group of scientists and engineers will synergistically investigate stimuli responsive surface-grafted polymer assemblies. The combined expertise in synthesis and surface science [E. Manias, PSU], molecular simulations [I.A. Bitsanis, FORTH and I. Economou, NCSR], and polymer physical chemistry [S.H. Anastasiadis, AUTH] allows to investigate the fundamentals of model thermosensitive polymers. The research explores the fundamentals of surface-bound functional polymer assemblies, which exhibit response to external stimuli. The specific aims of the proposed research include: (a) to formulate quantitative relations between intermolecular interactions, chain conformations, and macroscopic properties relevant to polymers' phase transitions; (b) quantify the dependencies between stimuli response and chemical composition, grafting density, and polymer characteristics; and (c) test the molecular modeling insights against experimental systems, and formulate methods that will enable us to tailor the response onsets of these systems.

The research focuses on unveiling the molecular mechanisms that underlie the rich conformational characteristics and transitions of surface-grafted water-soluble macromolecules, as a response to external stimuli. Understanding these principles will allow for controlling the behavior of these surfaces, which can in turn be utilized in designing novel material assemblies, surface modifications with designed functionalities, or even smart -stimuli responsive- devices. The development of strategies to link experiments and molecular modeling approaches, in a manner that simulations can quantitatively describe and predict the behavior of realistic systems, also bears high intellectual merit. Developing an understanding of the underlying science of 'smart' polymer surfaces is expected to have a profound impact on basic science, technology, and life sciences. The development of smart structures, which can respond and adapt to external stimuli [such as temperature and chemical changes], is critical to many evolving technologies with applications in various disciplines, e.g., biomedical materials, chemical sensors and separations, intelligent coatings for catalysts, stimuli responsive and adaptive microdevices, and smart drug delivery systems. The ultimate goal is to develop scientifically-based design strategies for polymers with desired thermosensitivities and structural reconstructions as a response to external stimuli. Training graduate students, providing international experiences to young researchers, and offering an outreach program constitute important components of this project. We also outline efforts in recruiting and training undergraduate students, including students from under-represented groups.

This award is co-supported by the Europe and Eurasia Program of the Office of International Science and Engineering.

Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/09


  • National Science Foundation: $219,000.00


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