Simon’s paper accepted in Comp. Phys. Commun.

Simon’s joint work with Ellen was accepted for publication in Computer Physics Communications. Their paper describes a user-friendly graphical user interface software that can be directly used by materials scientists for Ideal Adsorption Solution Theory (IAST) calculations. Such calculations are highly useful when trying to understand and predict the gas separation performance of (nano)porous materials, as used -for example- for CO2 capture.

You can read the full paper here.

Collaborative paper with Du Prez group accepted in Eur. Pol. J.

The research that Maarten Smulders undertook during his sabbatical leave in the fall of 2021 in the group of Filip Du Prez has been published in the European Polymer Journal. The work, jointly performed with PhD students Filip van Lijsebetten and Stephanie Engelen, describes how epoxy-based coatings can be made recyclable without affecting their barrier properties. To this end, within the epoxy network dynamic-covalent vinylogous urethane groups were introduced to create a vitrimer epoxy coating. Extensive characterisation of the coating, in part performed at the facilities of Flamac, revealed that the coatings maintained their corrosion protection even after exposure to salt water and steam condensation. In addition, upon damaging, the barrier properties could be restored by simple heating. Finally, it was demonstrated the coatings could reversibly adhered to an aluminium surface.

You can read the full paper here.

NWO Circularity Grant awarded

Maarten was awarded an NWO Circularity Grant for a project entitled “Dynamic Branching for Circularity (DYNABRANCH)”. A consortium of WUR, TUE, AVANS Breda and SABIC, lead by Maarten, will take on two PhD students and a postdoc to: 1) achieve chemically modification of engineering plastics with dynamic covalent chemistry to improve their recyclability, and 2) to study the societal acceptance of these new polymers.

More information can be read on the website of NWO.

Latest paper of Esther published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

The collaborative work by Esther van Andel with the WUR groups of Cell Biology and Immunology and Biochemistry has resulted in a publication in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. In this work, Esther nicely demonstrates how magnetic beads, equipped with an antifouling coating and an antibody can be used to very specifically identify relevant protein–protein interactions with a strong reduction in unwanted nonspecific protein binding.

You can read the full story here.

Two UCo grants awarded

Two consortia that Maarten Smulders is part of, have been awarded an Unusual Collaborations (UCo) Grant. Unusual Collaborations Grants are designed to take an idea or project further by enabling innovative, interdisciplinary science and scholarship that aims for societal impact.
The UCo grants are awarded by the Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo), which is one of the core teams in the Strategic Alliance between Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University and the University Medical Center Utrecht. The Centre has been set up by the Young Academies of the four institutions in the Strategic Alliance. The idea is that by joining forces, we will be able to address the societal challenges of today and of the future in a more sustainable way.
The two initiatives that have been awarded an UCo Grant are:

  1. All in the same boat: securing water from raindrop to tap. This initiative addresses the need for reliable access to clean water. The consortium will develop an open-access and integrative framework with indicators to evaluate and improve water security.
  2. Structures of Strength (SoS): Unusual Collaborations on Porous Materials; a solution for health, food and environmental challenges. This initiative aims to become a permanent platform that provides unique opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations, becoming the go-to for all researchers with questions related to porous materials.

More information can be found on the CUCo website.

Three papers published on antifouling brushes

The year has been off to a good start, with three papers being published on antifouling coatings. Andriy and Lucas jointly published two papers in Advanced Materials Interfaces, while Annemieke had a paper accepted in Applied Surface Science.

The Advanced Materials Interfaces paper (lead by Andriy) reports on random and diblock copolymer brushes with antifouling properties, prepared by surface-initiated photoinduced electron-transfer-reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (SI-PET-RAFT). These brushes are based on HPMA (superb antifouling) and CBMA (good antifouling and functionalisable via activated ester chemistry) and are therefore of interest for use as functional antifouling coatings in various biosensing application.

The second Advanced Materials Interfaces paper (lead by Lucas) reports on thermoresponsive poly(NMEP) brushes. In this research, the thermoresponsive and antifouling properties of poly(NMEP) polymer brushes are investigated and the possibility to incorporate poly(NMEP) in more complex polymer brush structures are demonstrated.

Finally, Annemieke’s Applied Surface Science paper presents a thorough study on the behaviour of various polymer brushes, with varying degree of fluorination, in damaging, healing and fouling conditions. This work is driven by the need to reduce the fluorine content of coatings in view of the environmental impact of (poly-)fluorinated compounds, without comprising their antifouling and self-healing performance.

Postdoc vacancy on Covalent Adaptable Networks

Are you a polymer chemist with an interest to apply your expertise for the development of covalent adaptable polymer networks to create mechanically robust, yet processable polymer materials? Do you have a background in synthesis and characterisation of polymers, including rheology and/or dynamic-mechanical analysis? And would you like to work together in a multidisciplinary team of researchers? Then we’re looking for you!

Our group is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on a project that is aimed at the development of covalent adaptable networks, with a focus on how these polymer networks can be made processable (at elevated temperatures) without suffering creep at room temperature. You will work as postdoctoral researcher on a NWO Vidi project entitled “4D control over smart dynamic polymers”, supervised by Dr. Maarten Smulders, and in close collaboration with two PhD students that have already started. Funding for this position is available for a total of two years, with an evaluation after one year.

Please use the university website link to find out more about the vacancy and how to apply.

Maarten joins PCR group (headed by Filip Du Prez) for a sabbatical stay

Last month Maarten joined the Polymer Chemistry Research group at the University of Ghent (Belgium), headed by Filip Du Prez, for a 3-month sabbatical stay. During this stay Maarten will have the opportunity to extend his experience and expertise in covalent adaptable networks and sequence-defined macromolecules, which are two research areas in which the PCR group is at the forefront of science.

Welcome to Zhen Yang

We welcome Zhen Yang as new PhD student in the group. Zhen, who obtained his MSc degree in Analytical Chemistry from Uppsala University (Sweden), will work on the development of an ingestible sensor. His project is a a collaboration of imec, the Synthetic Organic Chemistry group at Radboud University in Nijmegen and our Laboratory of Organic Chemistry at Wageningen University & Research.

Ingestible sensors have the potential to non-invasively measure biomarkers and metabolites in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Using such electronic smart pills equipped with sensors will give novel insights into gut processes, help with early diagnosis and screening for diseases, and aid personalised nutrition. The project is highly interdisciplinary involving organic chemistry, surface chemistry and biocatalysis and therefore strongly relies on teamwork and collaboration as the laboratory work will take place in the labs of all three project partners.