Soft matter is more associated to biological systems unlike hard materials since it shares the common features of the cells, tissues, organs. The origin of the biomimicry is therefore placing soft matter in to center of interest. We use the synergy of soft matter and biomimicking materials for comprehensive understanding of living system-matter interactions. Our current research activities focus on the interactions of biological entities and biomimicking polymers that covers super penetrating fluorescent probes, biosensing soft materials, printable bioink formulations for 3D constructs and biofouling surfaces. We heavily utilise fluorescence spectroscopy and surface enhanced infrared spectroscopy as major tools for characterization. Following sections describes output our current research activities.
Super Penetrating Polymer Dots (Pdots)
In addition to their excellent emissive properties,chemical modularity, and biocompatibility, soft nanoparticlesexhibit reversible deformations and chain displacement by the conformational alteration of their polymer backbone, causing significant changes in photophysical properties. By this unique property, soft nanoparticles show extraordinary penetration capability both in inter and intracellular milieu. In this research, a nanophase separationmethod is proposed to prepare a single chain Pdot with a size of 3.6 nm without using any solid support. The Pdots are formed by rapid nanophase separation occurring between water (a poor solvent) and ethylene glycol (a good solvent) that contains a cationic single chain of poly[1,4-dimethyl1-(3-((2,4,5-trimethylthiophen-3-yl)oxy)propyl)piperazin-1-ium bromide]. The smaller Pdots provide substantial advantages for penetration into cellular compartments having pore size between 5 and 10 nm.
Ongoing activity in this topic is to utilize Pdots as fluorescent reporters to differentiate invasive cancer cells that causes methastheis. In particular, size and charge density of Pdots become major parameter that governs the in vivo labelling of proteins and genes. I plan to apply Pdots to 3D tumoroid models to study their penetration behaviors.