Complex coacervate core micelles (C3Ms) are good candidates as diffusional nanoprobes since they are overall neutral, spherical, and have a size in the relevant range (comparable to the size of gel openings). C3Ms are formed through electrostatic interactions between neutral-ionic diblock-copolymers and oppositely charged polyelectrolytes: see the figure below. Their core consist of a complex formed between the ionic blocks and the polyelectrolytes and this is surrounded by a corona formed by the neutral block. In this project, our approach will be to design diffusional nanoprobes with a spectroscopic functionality suitable for NMR.
The multi-length scale structure of gels is an important parameter which determines properties like texture, water retention, and controlled release of active components. The enhancement of the design of gels depends on the understanding of the structural parameters at different length scales. The structure can be described by parameters such as the polymer fraction, the voids size, the crosslinking density and the strand radius. For this purpose several techniques exist. However they hardly operate at the nanoscale and can be invasive for the material studied. An alternative is to incorporate nanoprobes into the gel and get structural information by measuring their diffusion through the gel matrix. A denser gel structure will give a higher obstruction and retardation, vice versa.The currently used nanoprobes (PEG polymers, dendrimers) have several drawbacks: they are expensive, may change their shape, and/ or have a low sensitivity for spectroscopy methods.
We are looking for an highly motivated BSc student with interest in working with polymers and nanotechnology applications. Specifically, student will
Help in the design of the micelle
Determine the optimal composition and size of the micelles using dynamic light scattering
Perform dialysis to purify the micellar solution
Perform chemical covalent cross-linking
Interpretation NMR measurements
Please contact the corresponding contact person above.