Smart droplets for nanoparticle transport and materials repair


Ashlin Sathyan


Ashlin Sathyan, Zhefei Yang, Ying Bai, Hyunki Kim, Alfred J. Crosby, Todd Emrick

Author Affiliation: 

Polymer science and engineering, Umass Amherst


This poster will describe the design of synthetic polymer surfactants to stabilize oil-in-water droplets and function as smart droplets for the recognition and transport of particulate materials. Synthetic polymer surfactants containing a combination of nature-inspired and molecular recognition results form ‘smart droplet’ systems. Zwitterions in the polymer surfactants impart hydrophilicity, antifouling, and reactive properties, and additionally, functional groups are added for effective transport, recognition and delivery capabilities. Reactive functional groups such as activated esters, carboxylic acids, and catechol groups are incorporated into amphiphilic polymer surfactants with hydrophobic polyolefin backbone and pendant zwitterionic phosphorylcholine groups. Reactive functional groups can be incorporated into polymerizable cyclic olefins that are amenable to ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). Electrostatic and covalent interactions between functional groups and nanoparticles are utilized for recognition and transport. Moreover, adjusting the interfacial interactions between the droplets and nanoparticles, nanoparticles and substrates, and the substrates and droplets is achieved by tuning the chemistry and surface structures. Alternatively, opportunities not achievable with phosphorylcholine zwitterions are addressed with different zwitterionic groups that have either inherent or built-in reactivity.