Sarah Brosnan, a research associate in the Ashby Group, has received a post-doctoral NSF fellowship in biology to work with Professor Markus Antonietti at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany.
Sarah's research has led to the development of the first example of shape memory polymer particles that can have any starting shape, have a large variety of temporary shapes, return to the original shape at biologically reasonable and tunable temperatures, display no cytotoxicity, and have a surface chemistry that can be trivially modified.
Published in Macromolecules, Jason Rochette in the Ashby Group describes how the synthesis of a library of poly(ester urethane)s (PEUs) containing pendant photoresponsive moieties afforded through the incorporation of one of two novel bifunctional monomers resulted in degradable materials with a range of tunable thermal and mechanical properties.
Examination of these materials under physiological conditions displayed tunable degradation with rates faster than PCL-based materials, and initial biocompatibility studies exhibited negligible cytotoxicity for HeLa cells based on results of ATP assay. The ability to tune thermal properties also allowed specific polymer compositions to boast transition temperatures within a range of applicable temperature for thermal shape memory.