Every day we make use of a range of products where the material functionalities, such as defined mass transport properties, are of imperative importance for the overall product performance. Food, wound care, diapers, drug delivery and packaging materials are all examples of such products.
A thorough understanding of how materials can be efficiently designed in order to tune and control their mass transport properties are therefore, naturally, at the core of the research carried out within SuMo Biomaterials. Our current project portfolio within the material design can be summarized into below areas;
- design of materials with low water content e.g. films, barriers and their composites but also design of the microstructure of pasta and how this can be used to tune its water uptake
- design of material with high water content such as, hydrogels with an hierarchical pore structure ranging from nanometer to micrometer scale, as well as design of materials containing pores of specific size, morphology and surface chemistry
- fine structure – function studies by designing new material via molecular modification of existing renewable polymers (cellulose)
The material structure (such as pore size, shape and morphology) will in film and barriers as well as soft polymeric material influence the diffusion path and length of specific molecules. Depending on the interplay between material structure and specific molecules of interest, its diffusion may be further hindered via size, exclusion or interaction. Flow within soft polymer material is related to the pore sizes of the structure as well as the external pressure applied on the structure. By creating material structure with hierarchical pore lengths one may obtain microstructures where both diffusion and flow occurs.
Each research projects have its own specific questions but certain questions are general for Module 4. How will the pore size, shape and layer by layer material influence the permeability properties of films and barriers and how can polymer - polymer interactions, polymer - solvent interaction as well as preparation routes be used in order to design the required pore structure? How can we design material with such length scales that both diffusion and flow can be studied simultaneously and how can material structure be designed in order to efficiently direct flow and fluid without externally applied pressure? How can biomaterials with structures at varying length scales combine to form new materials with synergies in mass transport characteristics?