Chemical engineers developed a new class of multi-functional precision polymers, according to a report published on January 3, 2019.
The research team, which includes chemical engineers and chemists in the Livingston Group, used liquid-phase synthesis along with molecular sieving for the fabrication of a polymer of extraordinary molecular precision. This is expected to open up new possibilities in drug delivery, nanotechnology, and information storage.
This research provides details regarding a new synthesis method known as Nanostar Sieving. This method allows the researchers to have complete control over the sequence of monomers which make up the resulting polyether. This enables specific functions such as the delivery of anti-cancer drugs to specific tumor sites in the human body, and the storage of information in the monomer order.
Polymers can be understood as words and monomers as the letters which make words. Regular synthetic polymers have only one letter, however can be words of varying length. Sometimes additional letters are used such as LLO or OLL. Researchers used Nanostar Sieving to exert exact control over the sequence of letters and used 4 different PEG monomers to spell LOLLOL and LONDON, in a polymer alphabet or PEGabet. Therefore, this complete control over the final polymer structure is expected to be useful in various range of applications such as drug delivery, nanotechnology, and information storage.
Furthermore, the research team will study about the practical applications of this new polyether and carry out new experiments with other polymers, to produce a biodegradable version of this polymer.