Université de Strasbourg

Polymeric films

Morphogenic self-build-up of polymeric films controlled by electrochemistry

USIAS Fellow: Fouzia Boulmedais
Post-doc: Paolo Lupatelli

Functional materials are predicted to have an enormous impact on many aspects of society, including next generation health care and energy-related technologies.
For example, functional or “smart” materials can be used for the development of selective tools for the detection of biomolecules in biological fluids, (e.g. glucose in blood, saliva and even tears) and can be used for life-changing applications (e.g. biosensors for glucose monitoring used by people who have diabetes.Flat screens, artificial bone, solar panels, computer memories, novel sensors; all rely on functional materials, whose properties derive from and are controlled by their underlying design.
Bottom-up approaches, using self-assembly principles, are increasingly considered to be the most appropriate routes for the synthesis of functional materials. Inspiration often comes from the biological world where many outstanding examples of highly complex functional nanoscale architectures have been discovered. At a high structural level, self-organizations resulting in complex tissue morphologies are driven by morphogen gradients, specific molecules to which cells respond in a concentration dependent manner. In a preliminary study, we extended this process to a self-construction of films induced exclusively from a surface through a gradient of catalysts Cu+(Rydzek et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed 2011, 50, 4374).
In this project, we propose to develop the original concept of morphogenic self-construction of films by electrochemistry through others coupling reaction. The film self-construction will be done with two types of polymers present in solution and in two steps: (i) the electro-activation of one of the polymers followed by (ii) the self-construction of the film by crosslinking between the activated polymer and the second one. The requirement of the morphogen, generated by an electric potential, to obtain a self-construction allows envisioning the design of films having complex pre-defined topographies on microelectrode arrays. This project, particularly innovative in the field of electrode functionalization, will open the gate of structured films on surface and their application in the design of biosensors.

Scheme: Schematic representation of the morphogenic self-construction of films induced by a morphogen gradient (pink gradient). One polymer is “activated” by the electric potential near the surface of the electrode. These activated polymers react rapidly with the other polymers, simultaneously present in solution, and with the surface contributing to the spontaneous formation of a film.


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