Reversible Deactivation Radical Polymerization and “self-assembly”
Our research group has been involved in the preparation of polymeric materials through Reversible Deactivation Radical Polymerization (RDRP) methods, covering the development and optimization of different methods (ATRP, DCT and RAFT in homogeneous or heterogeneous media) and the preparation of well defined (co)polymeric structures (ranging from commodity polymers to stimuli-responsive or specialty polymers). Special attention has been paid to non-activated polymers, namely poly(vinyl chloride). These polymerization techniques enable the preparation of polymers with narrow molecular weight distribution and active chain ends that can be easily functionalized to allow macromolecular engineering. Advanced self-assembly structures have been studied in our research group, taking advantage of the possibility to control the block copolymers molecular structure at a nanometric level. Most of our work in self-assembly polymeric systems is focused in drug delivery systems and in advanced coatings applications.
Biopolymers (synthetic and natural) for different applications
In the last years, a growing interest in the use of biodegradable polymers in a variety of applications has been observed. Our research group is involved in different studies aiming the replacement of non-biodegradable materials by their biodegradable counterparts. In order to turn this challenging objective into reality it is necessary to improve significantly the mechanical and thermal properties of the biodegradable materials. In our research group, we are moving towards the synthesis of new biodegradable polymers, namely polyesters, with mechanical properties that fulfill the requisites of the plastics industry.
In pharmaceutics/medicine, biodegradable polymers, both natural and synthetic, proved to be very useful in drug delivery systems and tissue engineering. In this field, our group is interested in synthesis of polyesters and poly(ester amide)s based on a-amino acids and a-hydroxy acids. Unsaturated biodegradable polyesters for application in scaffolds have been successfully synthesized.
Organic synthesis and controlled modification of polymers
The organic chemistry research area supports the polymerization studies by intervening at several levels. Monomers are specially synthesized or modified to adjust the functionalities and side groups that can give to the polymers the suitable properties. Different catalysts can be prepared to improve the polymerization reaction. Another strategy involves the post-modification of polymers using strategies that are feasible at the industrial scale. Other project include sulphonyl radical reactions and the synthesis of porphyrin macrocycles as oxidation and photooxidation catalysts, and the use of porphyrins in photodynamic therapy and the preparation of supported organic catalysts for carbon-carbon condensation reactions.