Polymer Movement Drives Next-Generation Biomedical Coatings

Researchers are studying the growth and behavior of multilayer polymer films to develop a new generation of biomedical coatings. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University.

Materials science and engineering researchers at Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas, USA) are working on a new project to create the next generation of biomedical coatings. These polymer-based coatings are designed to protect tools and electronic devices against corrosion, fluids, and debris while releasing therapeutic compounds to kill bacteria.

Coatings are often used to modify the surfaces of medical devices. However, these devices have random shapes, which require a specialized method to controllably coat the surface. As a result, researchers are seeking to gain a better fundamental understanding of the growth and behavior of multilayer polymer films. By doing so, they hope to create functional films on the surface of different materials while controlling their properties and structures.

These properties are important because they dictate how such films interact with aqueous and salinated solutions, the researchers explain. Their initial work has revealed that simple manipulations during film buildup can easily control these properties in surface coatings. “By demonstrating how one can control the mobility of individual polymer chains layer-by-layer, we hope to facilitate practical applications of these films as a platform for the functionalization of surfaces of biomedical devices,” says doctoral student Victor Selin.

Using several techniques, the researchers established a quantitative picture of the internal structure and polymer chain dynamics of these films. These experiments allowed the group to correlate the films’ properties with the behavior of individual polymer chains. “Our research provides a better understanding of the relationship between assembly conditions and the internal structure of resulting films, and therefore significantly contributes to the existing fundamental knowledge in polymer physics and materials science,” Selin says.

The research is part of a U.S. National Science Foundation (Alexandria, Virginia, USA) project focusing on the studies of layer-by-layer coatings. As part of the project, Texas A&M professors and students are working in close collaboration with instrumentation scientists at the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA).

Source: Texas A&M, engineering.tamu.edu.