Published on Wednesday June 29, 2011
Professor Christopher Li is a recipient of a two-year $100,000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for "Polymer Single Crystals for Nanocomposite Hydrogel."
Hydrogels are polymer networks swollen with a large amount of water. From a structural standpoint, they are remarkably similar to many load-bearing soft tissues in the human body, such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. However, one intrinsic drawback for conventional hydrogels is that they are mechanically weak, which significantly limits their application in tissue engineering.
Funding from this "new direction" grant will be used to demonstrate that polymer single crystals (PSCs) can be used as unique nanofillers/crosslinkers to form hydrogels with exceptional mechanical properties. If this proposed research is successful, it will pave the way to the concept of using PSC as nanoscale materials for advanced hydrogel design and synthesis.