skip to main content

Title: Spontaneous formation of anisotropic microrods from paraffin wax in an aqueous environment
The construction of functional nano-/micro-architectures through self-assembly and self-organization of organic molecules and polymeric materials plays an important role in the development of many technologies. In this study, we report the spontaneous formation of uniform polymer microrods with lengths of up to a few tens of micrometers from paraffin wax. Through a solvent attrition approach, colloidal structures of paraffin wax are introduced into water. After the initial growth stage, the microrods undergo morphological transformation and end-to-end aggregation, processes likely driven by thermodynamics to create equilibrium structures with minimal interfacial energies. The polymer microrods can effectively absorb hydrophobic nanoparticles, indicating their potential to serve as host materials for functional components. The formation of polymer microrods from paraffin wax and their spontaneous growth mechanism discovered in this study may provide new insights to the self-assembly of microstructures.
Authors:
 ;  ;  ;  
Award ID(s):
2025214
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10308965
Journal Name:
Soft Matter
ISSN:
1744-683X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Directing polymer self-assembly through noncovalent interactions is a powerful way to control the structure and function of nanoengineered materials. Dynamic hydrogen bonds are particularly useful for materials with structures that change over time or in response to specific stimuli. In the present work, we use the supramolecular association of urea moieties to manipulate the morphology, thermal response, and mechanical properties of soft polymeric hydrogels. Urea-terminated poly(isopropyl glycidyl ether)- b -poly(ethylene oxide)- b -poly(isopropyl glycidyl ether) ABA triblock copolymers were synthesized using controlled, anionic ring-opening polymerization and subsequent chain-end functionalization. Triblock copolymers with hydroxy end-groups were incapable of hydrogelation, while polymers terminated with meta -bis-urea motifs formed robust gels at room temperature. Rheometric analysis of the bulk gels, variable-temperature infrared spectroscopy (VT-IR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) confirmed the formation of structured hydrogels via association of the meta -bis-urea end-groups. Monourea end-groups did not result in the same regular structure as the meta -bis-urea. In future, the reported hydrogels could be useful for elastomeric, shape-morphing 3D-printed constructs, or as biomimetic scaffolds with precisely tailored porosity and mechanical properties.
  2. This perspective presents a recently developed approach to organize polymer and polymer composite materials through a new form of light-directed organization of photoreactive polymeric media. Under suitable conditions, such media will interact with light, in a mutual dynamic process, that results in the spontaneous organization of both the input light field and, importantly, the polymer media. New material structures can be created in free-radical-initiated media, polymer blends and polymer–solvent mixtures, as well as possibly more complex, multicomponent formulations. An overview of the underlying principles and chemical phenomena and exemplary material structures are presented. Materials produced using this new processing approach can be used as functional coatings, textured surfaces, and membranes, as well as a host of other applications via selection of polymer composition. Key open questions and areas for further inquiry and advancement are presented. Coupling the dynamics of light pattern formation processes to photoreactive matter is a promising new approach to the organization of materials for a range of critical applications and reveals interesting nonlinear dynamic phenomena in the organization of materials.
  3. Coordination within and between organisms is one of the most complex abilities of living systems, requiring the concerted regulation of many physiological constituents, and this complexity can be particularly difficult to explain by appealing to physics. A valuable framework for understanding biological coordination is the coordinative structure, a self-organized assembly of physiological elements that collectively performs a specific function. Coordinative structures are characterized by three properties: (1) multiple coupled components, (2) soft-assembly, and (3) functional organization. Coordinative structures have been hypothesized to be specific instantiations of dissipative structures, non-equilibrium, self-organized, physical systems exhibiting complex pattern formation in structure and behaviors. We pursued this hypothesis by testing for these three properties of coordinative structures in an electrically-driven dissipative structure. Our system demonstrates dynamic reorganization in response to functional perturbation, a behavior of coordinative structures called reciprocal compensation. Reciprocal compensation is corroborated by a dynamical systems model of the underlying physics. This coordinated activity of the system appears to derive from the system’s intrinsic end-directed behavior to maximize the rate of entropy production. The paper includes three primary components: (1) empirical data on emergent coordinated phenomena in a physical system, (2) computational simulations of this physical system, and (3) theoretical evaluation ofmore »the empirical and simulated results in the context of physics and the life sciences. This study reveals similarities between an electrically-driven dissipative structure that exhibits end-directed behavior and the goal-oriented behaviors of more complex living systems.« less
  4. We report the influence of side chain hydrolysis on the evolution of nanoscale structure in thin films fabricated by the reactive layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly of branched poly(ethylenimine) (PEI) and poly(2-vinyl-4,4-dimethylazlactone) (PVDMA). LbL assembly of PEI and PVDMA generally leads to the linear growth of thin, smooth films. However, assembly using PVDMA containing controlled degrees of side chain hydrolysis leads to the growth of thicker films that exhibit substantial nanoscale roughness, porosity, and have resulting physicochemical behaviors (e.g., superhydrophobicity) that are similar to those of some thicker PEI/PVDMA coatings reported in past studies. Our results reveal that the degree of PVDMA partial hydrolysis (or carboxylic acid group content) influences the extent to which complex film features develop, suggesting that ion-pairing interactions between hydrolyzed side chains and amines in PEI promote the evolution of bulk and surface morphology. Additional experiments demonstrate that these features likely arise from polymer/polymer interactions at the surfaces of the films during assembly, and not from the formation and deposition of solution-phase polymer aggregates. When combined, our results suggest that nanoporous structures and rough features observed in past studies likely arise, at least in part, from some degree of adventitious side chain hydrolysis in the PVDMA used formore »film fabrication. Our results provide useful insight into molecular-level features that govern the growth and structures of these reactive materials, and provide a framework to promote nanoscale morphology reliably and reproducibly. The principles and tools reported here should prove useful for further tuning the porosities and tailoring the physicochemical behaviors of these reactive coatings in ways that are important in applied contexts.« less
  5. Developing new approaches for vascularizing synthetic tissue systems will have a tremendous impact in diverse areas. One area where this is particularly important is developing new skeletal muscle tissue systems, which could be utilized in physiological model studies and tissue regeneration. To develop vascularized approaches a microfluidic on-chip design for creating channels in polymer systems can be pursued. Current microfluidic tissue engineering methods include soft lithography, rapid prototyping, and cell printing; however, these have limitations such as having their scaffolding being inorganic, less desirable planar vasculature geometry, low fabrication efficiency, and limited resolution. Here we successfully developed a circular microfluidic channel embedded in a 3D extracellular matrix scaffolding with 3D myogenesis. We used a thermo-responsive polymer approach with micromilling-molding and designed a mixture of polyester wax and paraffin wax to fabricate the sacrificial template for microfluidic channel generation in the scaffolding. These findings will impact a number of fields including biomaterials, biomimetic structures, and personalized medicine in the future.