: Ultrahigh Resolution Characterisation of Conjugated Polymers for Biological Signal Transduction

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: School of Life Sciences


New classes of conjugated polymers have been recently developed for applications at the interface with biological systems, in particular for biological signal transduction. When integrated as active materials into organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs), they allow to record in vivo and in vitro biological signals with high efficiency.
These macromolecules are the result of recent advances in polymer synthetic methodologies and combine inherently hydrophobic, electronic charge conducting backbones with hydrophilic, bio-compatible side chains. The functional side chains play an important role in determining the efficacy of the application since they bridge the electronics to the biology and allow specific molecular interactions with biological systems such as cells, proteins, and lipid bilayers.
The performance of this type of devices crucially depends on the both the primary and the secondary structure of the polymers, i.e. on the sequence of monomers and on the polymer self-assembly, respectively. However, determining the sequence and self-assembly of these macromolecules is still a major and unresolved problem which has significantly limited the field of bioelectronics in establishing design rules that maximise interactions with the biological milieu which has direct contact with the material.
This project aims at solving this fundamental problem through a highly innovative and unconventional approach, whereby the primary and secondary structure of the polymers are determined by ultrahigh resolution scanning probe microscopy. By depositing the functional macromolecules in vacuum on atomically clean and flat substrates, it will be possible to image them with sub-molecular resolution, thereby enabling us to sequence the polymers by simple visual inspection, and to unravel structural and self-assembly characteristics that have so far been impossible to determine.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2097360 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Joseph Parker