Soft materials

Using natural and synthetic polymers to develop sensors, scaffolds, and new soft materials

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Mechanosensors from oCVD

Oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD) is a solvent free technique, enabling growth of network polymers in a single processing step. Deposition proceeds via vapor phase eliminating limitations of insufficient monomer solubility of conjugated polymers faced by conventional methods. In this project, we use oCVD to engineer hybrid conductive polymer composites (CPCs). These 3D porous interconnected substrates serve as a template, guiding the in-situ vapor phase polymerization of a CP backbone into the matrix by oCVD. CPCs are excellent candidates for a plethora of biomedical applications that rely on electrical conductivity, including wearable and flexible resistive strain sensors for healthcare monitoring.

People: Adrivit Mukherjee
Hydrogel scaffolds to study the response of cancer cells to mechanical stress

In this project, we focus on studying the effect of physical traits of cancer on the adaptive response of Glioblastoma cells. The multiscale reprogramming and adaptation of GBM cells are being investigated in presence of mechanical stress and tissue compression. For this, an in vitro model is being developed using bioactive hydrogels. In addition, the role of PERK signaling as a part of unfolded protein response and possible links with GBM cells microenvironmental adaptation are being explored.

People: Mohammed Khoonkari

Double network hydrogels using electrostatic interactions

Hydrogels are considered to be good candidates for soft human tissues replacement such as muscles or cartilages as they can match their stiffness and water content. However, usual single network hydrogels (SN) suffer from very low mechanical strength, toughness and fatigue resistance compared to native tissues. Upon deformation, the rupture of a single polymer chain triggers dramatic delocalized breakage leading to early failure. To tackle this problem, we use the double network approach (DN) which relies on the interpenetration of two polymer networks of antagonistic properties in a single sample. Our work focuses on taking advantage of the strong electrostatic complexation of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes (PEC) to introduce a rigid, supramolecular and healable sacrificial network in a DN gel architecture.

People: Julien Es Sayed