April 24th, 2019 – Researchers at UC find ways to produce cheaper and more environmentally friendly polymers with controlled structure, through the use of untreated water as the solvent

It has been shown for the first time, that untreated water (from rain, rivers or even the sea) can be used as solvent in the production of synthetic polymers by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). This discovery, capable of revolutionizing the production of these macromolecules, making it much cheaper and more ecological, was made recently by a team of researchers (Polysyc) from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC). (http://noticias.uc.pt/universo-uc/investigadores-da-uc-fazem-descoberta-capaz-de-tornar-mais-barata-e-ecologica-a-producao-de-polimeros-de-estrutura-controlada/).


March 25th, 2019 – Scientific paper on Polymer Chemistry concerning to the successful use of untreated water in diverse atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) processes, it was news on the news page of Chemistry World magazine (https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/untreated-water-works-just-fine-as-polymerisation-solvent/3010287.article)

A work published on Polymer Chemistry, and featured on the inside front cover of the respective issue, concerning to the successful use of untreated water in diverse atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) processes, was highlighted on a news item of the Chemistry World magazine. In fact, the results published on the Polymer Chemistry (DOI: 10.1039/c8py01784k) show that the polymerization kinetics and the control over the molecular weight were similar to those obtained in ultrapure water for four different water-soluble monomers (OEOA480 – poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether acrylate; HEA – 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate; AMA – 2-aminoethyl methacrylate hydrochloride and AMPTMA – (3-acrylamidopropyl)trimethylammonium chloride).

The published paper entitled “Pushing the limits of robust and eco-friendly ATRP processes: untreated water as the solvent” deserved the attention of the Chemistry World news, for which Patrícia Mendonça (the principal investigator) gave a small interview. The article published on 25th March, 2019, counts with the comment of Prof. Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, who was responsible for the development of the ATRP reaction at Carnegie Mellon University, US, around 25 years ago. He says that “It is very interesting to see how robust and benign ATRP becomes. It can be carried out in unpurified water from different sources and even in sea water with high concentrations of sodium chloride or other salts, and parts per million of copper catalysts.”

In addition, Prof. Remzi Becer, a polymer chemist from the University of Warwick, UK, showed his enthusiasm about the work, commenting that it follows the footsteps of studies that used alcohols as solvents and a one-penny coin as a catalyst. “Eventually, one can make a polymer using tap water as a solvent and a penny coin as a catalyst. Can it get any easier than that?”.


December 19th, 2018 – Researchers create a novel biodegradable nerve guide tube for peripheral nerve regeneration

A group of researchers developed a biodegradable nerve guide tube for regeneration of peripheral nerves, with motor and/or sensory function, after injury.

The innovative project, that recently won the EIT Health PhD Transition Fellowships in Europe, was developed by a team of researchers from the faculty of Science and Technology from the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and the Biomedical Sciences Institute Abel Salazar from the University of Oporto.

The device, which is already protected by a provisional patent, stands out by its controlled biodegradability and it is fully prepared with FDA approved materials for biomedical applications. Furthermore, the device is non-toxic and completely safe. It provides an appropriate environment for the regeneration of newly formed nerve fibres, improving the quality of the regeneration process.


November 05th, 2018 – A natural molecule to replace styrene, a toxic organic compound used in the naval, automobile, packaging and clothing industries, was developed by a research team from the University of Coimbra

For the first time, a molecule almost 100 % natural capable to substitute styrene, which is an oil derivative commonly used to produce several materials in a variety of industries (e.g. naval, automobile, packaging and clothing), was developed, refers the University of Coimbra in a statement. The research team from the Polysyc group, in addition to a former PhD student of the group, synthesized this new sobrerol-based molecule to be a viable alternative to the use of styrene, considered a toxic compound, harmful to the environment and humans, besides to be classified as a carcinogenic agent.

Sobrerol is a compound of cyclic structure that can be obtained through the transformation of materials obtained from pine resin. Furthermore, the preparation of the sobrerol involves the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) as raw material, an important aspect from the environmental point of view.

The research is the cover theme of the scientific journal Green Chemistry, one of the most prestigious scientific journal of the green chemistry field.


October 09th, 2018 – Researchers from Coimbra discover a new generation of polymers to eliminate bacteria in hospital environment

The researching team, counting on the participation of Dr. Patrícia Mendonça, Dr. Jorge Coelho, Madson Santos (PhD student) and Dr. Arménio Serra from the group Polysyc, from the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) developed a new generation of polymers with antimicrobial properties, which constitutes a “further step” for the prevention of hospital infections.
The scope of the discovery is the invention of an antibacterial coating (like a varnish) for application in health units, and the research group estimate that the new antimicrobial coating can enter in the commercial market in two or three years.


December 06th, 2017 – Deep eutectic solvents (DES): Excellent green solvents for rapid SARA ATRP of biorelevant hydrophilic monomers at ambient temperature

Recently, our group reported an eco-friendly type III deep eutectic solvent (reline: choline/urea mixture) for the polymerization of different bio-relevant hydrophilic monomers (HEA: 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate, HEMA: 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate and AMPTMA: (3-acrylamidopropyl)trimethylammonium chloride) through supplemental activator and reducing agent atom transfer radical polymerization (SARA ATRP) near to room temperature (30 ºC). The polymerization of PHEA was mediated by a safe and inexpensive SARA agent (sodium dithionite: Na2S2O4), and the results showed that a slow and continuous feeding of the SARA agent to the reaction mixture allows a PHEA-Br with higher chain-end functionality and lower dispersity (Ð ≈ 1.1) in comparison to the obtained without Na2S2O4 feeding.

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