Research Target

Amphiphilic polymer gels are composed of a polymer network with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts.  They feature favorable properties with delicate dependency on the environmental medium polarity, such as environmentally sensitive viscoelasticity and selective permeability.  To truly exploit this potential for applications, however, it is necessary to understand the interplay between the network nano- and microstructure and the resulting gel properties.  The network structure features multiple levels of complexity, starting from local connectivity defects on the mesh scale, network inhomogeneities on larger scales, and potentially microphase-separated domains on even larger scales.  These structures are partly imparted permanently during the network synthesis and partly further adaptable to the current experimental conditions.  Our research initiative targets at gaining rational understanding between the preparation conditions, the resulting network structures, and the yet resulting gel properties, primarily focusing on their viscoelastic mechanics and permeabilities.  This is done by adaption of the tetra-PEG approach for model-network synthesis to preparing amphipilic model networks of two kinds: irreversibly and reversibly crosslinked.  These networks are then characterized in view of their structures on multiple lengthscales and in view of their viscoelastic an permeation properties.  All that is done by synergistic convergence of theory and experiment.