Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014

UNO Chemist Gets $276,000 Grant to Study Next Generation Polymers

UNO Chemistry Professor Steven Rick has received a $276,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new smart polymers, which are materials that can respond to changes in the environment.University of New Orleans chemistry professor Steven Rick has received a $276,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new smart polymers, which are materials that can respond to changes in the environment.

University of New Orleans chemistry professor Steven Rick has received a $276,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new smart polymers, which are materials that can respond to changes in the environment.

Rick is one of 14 researchers from eight different universities participating in a Louisiana-Mississippi consortium, as part of a larger $6 million award.

The goal of the research is to develop and characterize new polymers that are able to heal in response to environmental stress, act as sensors, or release a drug in a controlled way. For example, cancer tumors may have a different pH than healthy tissue and drug-encapsulating polymers can be induced to release the cancer-fighting drug.

Through his lab at UNO, Rick has developed an efficient method for predicting the structure of complex materials using computer models. The method will be used to characterize the structures of polymers and how they may change in response to stimuli.

According to the Louisiana-Mississippi consortium's project proposal, the considerable economic footprint of chemical and polymer industries in Louisiana and Mississippi and the projected national market growth of smart polymers present a significant opportunity to position the region as leaders in this area of research. Smart polymers, which can alter their properties in response to environmental triggers, offer greatly expanded applications compared to conventional polymers.

 

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