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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Resmini Group Research

Nanogels are a type of nanomaterial characterised as a 3D, crosslinked, highly swellable polymer network with size dimensions below 100 nm. Their interesting properties, in addition to the ease in which they can be functionalised, make them ideal materials for many applications. In the Resmini research group we focus on the design, synthesis and characterisation of nanogels, for various applications including catalysis, drug delivery and for receptors within sensors. We also use the molecular imprinting approach to introduce selectivity into these nanomaterials and also focus on more fundamental studies of how nanogels interact with biomolecules and behave at interfaces.

Interactions of nanogels with biomolecules and interfacial behaviourbehaviour of nanogels at interfaces (left) and interaction of nanogels with proteins in protein corona formation

We have a very strong focus as a group on the use of nanogels as drug delivery systems for small molecule drugs and more recently, stem cells; involving research at the interface between chemistry, biology and pharmaceutical sciences. In the field of drug delivery it is important to predict the in vivo behaviour of nanomaterials. For this reason we use a wide range of techniques to study how proteins and other biomolecules interact with nanogels in the formation of the biomolecular corona (Figure 1). This allows us to alter the structure and properties of the nanogels, to control these interactions and allow the nanogels to carry out their function effectively. We also investigate the interfacial behaviour of nanogels given the importance of interfaces in nature and industry and the use of nanogels within the fields of drug delivery, coatings and emulsifiers. We focus on the behaviour of nanogels at air/liquid and solid/liquid interfaces (Figure 1) using techniques that include neutron reflectivity and are characterising the morphological behaviour of acrylamide based nanogels at these interfaces.

Molecular imprinting of nanogels Figure 2 molecular imprinting approach to create selective nanogels

Another area of research we are focussed on is the use of molecular imprinting technology to create nanogels that are capable of binding target analytes from a mixture or from complex samples with high affinity (Figure 2). We have applied this technology to a range of applications including catalysis and sensors. We have designed and synthesised nanogels to act as enzyme-mimics, displaying catalytic activity for organic reactions such as the Kemp elimination. Furthermore, we have designed and synthesised nanogel receptors that can be used in diagnostic sensors for a wide range of analytes including therapeutic and doping drugs and compounds found within food and beverages.

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