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Faculty & Staff Focus, Research, Science & Technology

Zhang Research Group Publishes Paper in Macromolecules

03/26/2012 04:06 PM

BATON ROUGE – Associate Professor of Chemistry Donghui Zhang and her research group have published a paper in Macromolecules, a top macromolecular journal. Highlights of the paper are also featured in the February edition of SYNFACTS, a chemistry journal focusing on current synthetic organic chemistry.

The paper, titled “Synthesis and Characterization of Cyclic Brush-Like Polymers by N-Heterocyclic Carbene-Mediated Zwitterionic Polymerization of N-Propargyl N-Carboxyanhydride and the Grafting-to Approach,” outlines how the team of researchers successfully combined two interesting polymeric architectures, ring and brush-like polymers, to synthesize what are being called “donut-shaped” nanoparticles. The polymeric particle of unusual shapes are potentially useful for various technological applications including drug delivery and as compatibilizers, but is difficult to synthesize in a controlled manner.

The objective of this research is to synthesize these donut-shaped nanostructures in a better defined manner and more efficiently. The researchers explored two separate synthetic methodologies towards the construction of the polymeric nanoparticles. For the brush structure, the well-known “grafting-to” technique was exploited, while the ring architecture was made from a new synthetic polymerization method developed in the Zhang lab (the N-heterocyclic carbene initiated polymerization of N-carboxyanhydrides).

In cooperation with Associate Professor of Chemistry Jayne Garno and her research team, these nanostructures were imaged using their Atomic Force Microscope, or AFM. The AFM is a very high-resolution scanning probe microscopy, with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanomenter, more than 1,000 times better that the optical diffraction limit.

The Garno lab affirmed that these structures were indeed “donut-shaped” and of nearly all the same size. The polymers are constructed with biocompatible building blocks with polypeptoid backbone, a structural mimic of polypeptides and poly(ethylene glycol) side chains, thus opening doors into potential uses in thebiomedical field (e.g., drug-delivery systems).


Related Links:
• Full paper in Macromolecules  
• Zhang Research Lab  
• Garno Research Lab

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