As part of the Supramolecular polymer chemistry group at the Eindhoven University of Technology, Doctorial candidate Berry Bögels and his colleagues are focused on using self-assembly to create smart materials. –Specifically, Mr Bögels has been working on developing membranes that can be used in applications such as drug delivery systems, dialysis and biosensors.
The group mainly focuses on three main research areas: Mechanochemisty, Biomimetic Materials and Nanostructured Responsive Materials. It is within this final area that Mr Bögels has been focusing his efforts. In recent years, there has been a concerted push toward the development of artificial materials that can be used to increase the understanding and enable researchers to mimic certain vital biological, stimuli-responsive activities. These stimuli-responsive materials can be used for a large variety of biological applications.
Their studies have utilised a variety of Linkam equipment in enabling them to look at the bulk crystalline properties of compounds which can be used to form these nanostructure membranes. The group is using an LTS stage with specially coated ITO cells to analyse liquid crystals, or polymeric materials with a molecular structure consisting of a high degree of order. The LTS stage allows them to view their samples on a polarizing microscope whilst simultaneously controlling the temperature of their sample. Mr Bögels has pointed this out as a key feature of the stage: "For the analysis of liquid crystalline materials, a good control of temperature is of upmost importance to be able to form the desired LC-Phase and (especially if) macroscopic alignment is wanted"
The group has recently acquired a new Linkam HFS X-ray stage which they have also been using in their research. The HFS X-ray stage has been used by the team to study the nanomaterials in an X-ray diffractometer enabling them to view the molecular structures in fine detail. The HFS X-ray stages are specifically designed for this established analytical technique as they have accurate control of temperature under vacuum as well as X-ray compatible windows.
The Linkam instrumentation has helped the group attain the results that they have strived to work for, and it is the robustness and versatility of the stages that the Mr Bögels and his team have found most valuable: "At Eindhoven University, we have already made use of Linkam stages for quite some time. They always seem to work properly, have a very long lifetime and can be used in a variety of different set-ups."
With the research into this field increasing day by day, the consensus is that the work of the Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry group could become of increasing importance as the group moves into the future development of smart biological materials.