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Methods and Instrumentation for During-Synthesis Monitoring of Polymer Functional Evolution


Tulane University is actively seeking commercial entities to further develop and commercialize novel method and instrumentation for monitoring how polymer stimuli responsiveness evolves during the very process of polymer synthesis.


As polymers become more complex and sophisticated in architecture and composition, they gain the ability to perform more “intelligent” functions than traditional polymers. The frontier of advanced polymeric materials in the 21stcentury will be dominated by these increasingly sophisticated polymers. Polymer stimuli responsiveness includes the ability of polymers, when certain characteristics are reached (e.g. molecular weight, composition, degree of postpolymerization modification, etc.), to go through phase changes (e.g. micellization, formation of supramolecular structures), conformational changes, solubility changes, and other transformations (e.g. ability to interact with other polymers, or chemical or biochemical agents), often dependent on solution conditions (e.g. temperature, pH, ionic strength, specific electrolyte content, etc.). A new generation of polymers is being designed with high stimuli responsiveness for diverse purposes such as biomedical assays, drug delivery, sensing, responsiveness to stimuli (e.g. heat, light, etc.), self-healing materials, and much more. The current invention offers a way of monitoring the evolution of stimuli responsiveness in a continuous way, during polymer synthesis. It is a high throughput screening platform and may challenge and even disrupt ongoing high throughput developments that use expensive, robotic, multi-reactor approaches for mere end product analysis. It builds upon and significantly improves the ACOMP (Automatic Continuous Online Monitoring of Polymerization reactions) platform, developed by the inventor, extending its applications to understanding and controlling stimuli-responsive polymers. The current invention is expected to quickly have real economic impact on polymer industries, yielding practical new materials and process monitoring and control that enhance savings of energy, petroleum, and other non-renewable resources, plant and labor time, and lead to better safety, and less greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution per kilogram of product.


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