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June 12th, 2006
A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a remarkable nanostructured material that can repel pests, sweeten the air, and some day might even be used as a timed drug delivery system — as a nasal spray, for instance.
Wooley mixes two normally incompatible polymers — a hyperbranched fluoropolymer and a linear polyethylene glycol — and lets them phase-separate into distinct domains, one interspersed in the other. A chemical process called crosslinking then solidifies the mixture, thus creating a heterogeneous coating that, upon close examination, reveals treacherous nanometer-sized terrain composed of mountains and valleys, ranging from hard to soft, hydrophilic to hydrophobic. The complex surface that is created makes it difficult for marine organisms to establish a toehold. Her laboratory has produced these novel materials and they are being used around the world.
Washington University in St. Louis
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