We have developed an adaptable oligonucleotide cross-linked polymer composite for oligonucleotide detection. Conductive materials are incorporated within an oligonucleotide cross-linked hydrogel. In the presence of the corresponding analyte sequence, the cross-link is displaced, resulting in reduced cross-link density and increased swelling. As the hydrogel swells, the density of conductive material decreases, resulting in a measurable decrease in conductivity. Utilising the high fidelity of oligonucleotide target-sequence recognition, we are able to design oligonucleotide cross-links to detect a variety of specific analyte sequences. Work continues to improve limit of detection and to print arrays of sensors appropriate for various applications. This work is carried out in conjunction with Phil Hands and the Scottish Microelectronics Centre, which enables us to manufacture interdigitated platinum electrodes on site.
Shaver, M. P.; Hands, P. J. W.; Ferrier, D.C. Biosensor. PCT Int. Appl. (2016), WO 2017006122 A1
In collaboration with the Koutsos group in the School of Engineering, we are currently investigating the interface between polymers and different surfaces at the nanoscale. This work aims to achieve a greater understanding of the fundamental interactions between polymers and their filler components within composite materials in order to improve manufacturing processes. AFM imaging is used to study the morphology of polymers on surfaces at the nanoscale, with particular emphasis on characterising the contact angle and orientation of the polymer features. Additionally, AFM is used to generate force-distance curves which provide quantitative data regarding the strength of interactions between polymers and surfaces.”
McClements, J.; Buffone, C.; Shaver, M. P.; Sefiane, K.; Koutsos, V.* “Poly(styrene-co-butadiene) random copolymer thin films and nanostructures on a mica surface: morphology and contact angles of nanodroplets” Soft Matter 2017, 13 (36), 6152
Most recently we have started examining how polymers can influence the growth of crystals, interfacing polymer and solid state self-assembly concepts into new materials for industry targets. With the help of the Nudelman group we aim to develop biocompatible polymers that can shape crystal growth for key industrial applications.
Water Purifying Polymers
Water purification typically involves the use of activated carbon (AC) as the adsorbent material. AC has been proven to work very well for nonpolar contaminants. However, as recent studies have shown, the high polarity of new emerging organic micropollutants makes their adsorption onto activated carbon very difficult. As a result, the EU regulatory limit (0.1 μg/l) for the amount of pesticide present is often exceeded, posing a great risk to the public health. There is a clear need for the development of new adsorbents which work more efficiently and selectively than AC, when it comes to the removal of such emerging micropollutants from drinking water. The Shaver group, in collaboration with the McKeown group, have undertaken the challenge and current work is being done in the development of such materials.