Unlocking New Functions Within Hydrogels Through Light
The focus of our research is to design new synthetic polymer networks that are either stimuli-responsive or offer applications in the biomedical field. Generally, research in the Read de Alaniz group focuses on the design and synthesis of a variety of materials. The specific materials of interest for our project are hydrogel polymer networks prepared from Diels–Alder chemistry. Hydrogels are hydrophilic polymer networks with numerous current medical and household uses, including widely used contact lenses. Much of the group’s ongoing lab work is built on the foundation of Diels–Alder chemistry– a chemical reaction between two pieces, a diene, and dienophile– which offers an efficient and mild means to make materials. Our goal is to use light to control the location of Diels–Alder chemistry within hydrogel polymer networks. The relevance of this study could open doors to many applications such as, but not limited to, drug screening assays of cancer cells, tissue engineering, and the creation of soft surgical robots.