From nanoparticles to functional materials

In nanocolloidal systems, just as in molecular systems, functions and properties are a result of both composition and organization. Not only nanocolloids display properties that are different from those of the same bulk material based on their size and shape but ensembles of nanocolloids have properties that are different than those of individual nanocolloids. These collectives properties are a result of the specific architecture of the assembly of the nanocolloids and a wide variety of architecture and modes of organization can be achieved by using nanocolloids as “building block”. We are working on making new nanocolloids with innovative properties and strive to understand their behavior in suspension and during their processing.

Polymer dynamics under nanoconfinement

The composition of the interface and the interactions between nanoparticles and their environment are the factors that control the stability, miscibility, and self-assembly of the particles. In the end, how these nanoparticles can be used in a variety of applications ranging from the biomedical field to the design of new optoelectronic devices would benefit from a better understanding of the interfacial phenomena. To improve their miscibility and stability, nanoparticles are often decorated with a corona of surface-tethered small molecules or polymer chains. Understanding the behavior of this corona is crucial in understanding the final behavior of the nanoparticles.
We are aiming to understand the influence of the corona on the fate of the nanoparticles by studying how the architecture of the corona affects, on the molecular level, the local dynamic of the individual chains composing the corona itself and, on the macroscopic level, the behavior of the nanoparticles in suspension.

Dynamic polymer nanocapsules

In the design of polymer materials for biomedical applications, one of the perennial challenges is to develop new materials that are able to respond to changes in their environment. The approach that we favor is based on the use of either non-covalent or dynamic covalent linkages as crosslinking points. The polymer networks formed in this manner are dynamic and addressable, i.e. those networks are able to form, brake, or reshuffle their crosslinking points in response to environmental, physical or chemical cues. When this type of crosslinked network is formed in an emulsion, dynamic and responsive nanocapsules are designed.
By implementing this type of crosslinking in the preparation of nanocapsules, we want to prepare a new generation of vehicles for the release of therapeutic payloads in vivo.
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