Phase 3 (2007 Deadline)
Synthesis and Characterization of Smart Polymer Microgels for
Shuiqin Zhou, The City University of New York, College of Staten Island
Mohammad Siddiq, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $ 100,000
US Funding (USAID): $ 178,645
Project Dates on US Side: April 1, 2008 - July 31, 2011
Smart polymers undergo reversible and strong changes in conformation and properties upon a small change in environmental conditions, for example, temperature, pH, ionic strength, light, or glucose concentration. Due to this stimuli-responsive behavior, smart polymers offer great advantages in biomedical applications, such as for bioseparation, drug delivery, biosensors, and surfaces with switchable hydrophobic-hydrophilic properties. This project aimed to synthesize and characterize a series of novel multiple responsive polymer microgel particles for biomedical applications. Laser light scattering and electron microscope techniques were employed to study the morphologies and volume phase transitions of the novel smart microgels under different external stimuli. With controllable permeability and rapid responses to pH, temperature, and glucose concentration change, the novel smart polymer microgels designed in this project can be developed as drug carriers for sustained release of protein and anticancer drug molecules.
Another major goal of this project was to establish a polymer materials research lab equipped with a laser light scattering instrument at Quaid-i-Azam University. Laser light scattering is a non-invasive and absolute technique for characterizing macromolecules and a wide range of polymer and nanostructured particles in solution. In developed countries, it has been widely utilized for characterization of all kinds of biopolymers (for example, DNA, protein, polysaccharides, etc.), synthetic polymers, and nanostructured colloidal particles for both industrial applications and academic research. However, until now no laser light scattering lab for polymer materials research had been established in Pakistan. This project facilitated the transfer to Pakistan of the synthetic and characterization approaches established in the US partner’s laboratory for studying polymer and colloidal materials.
- Provided training to one Pakistani PhD student and the Pakistani principal investigator Dr. Siddiq in the US PI’s lab, which helped Dr. Siddiq to establish Pakistan's first laser light scattering lab for polymer materials research at Quaid-I-Azam University
- Produced four M.Phil graduates at QAU, with one PhD student and two other M.Phil students involved in the project expected to graduate next year
- Developed several series of responsive hybrid polymeric microgels and nanogels for potential biomedical applications
- Produced 12 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, with one more manuscript in preparation for submission
- Delivered five presentations, including four invited talks, based on the research results from this project in national/international conferences
This project was completed at the end of July 2011 under a no-cost extension period. In the final months of the project, a new imprinting synthetic method was explored to synthesize novel glucose-responsive hybrid microgels that will improve the selectivity and sensitivity of glucose detection under physiological conditions. In the last quarter of the project, Dr. Zhou’s team helped Pakistani graduate student Mr. Zahoor Farooqi revise a manuscript, which has been accepted for publication. Dr. Zhou continued to provide guidance for Dr. Siddiq and his colleagues and students regarding the synthesis and characterization of smart polymeric microgels. She and her team on the US side also drafted a new manuscript for publication.
Progress Report Summaries
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2011 Download final report
2010 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
In 2010 Dr. Siddiq and his research team established the Polymer Chemistry Laboratory for synthesis and characterization of smart polymer microgels at QAU. The U.S. team maintained collaborations with Mr. Farooqi, and Dr. Wu worked to design, synthesize, and characterize novel polymer-inorganic nanoparticle hybrid microgels in different compositions and nanostructures for biomedical applications. He has also successfully evaluated several series of smart hybrid microgels for potential optical sensing of biological medium, cell imaging, and controlled drug delivery applications.
Dr. Siddiq was invited to present his research work at a workshop on Applications of Nanotechnology (WANT-2010) (May 31-June 4, 2010) organized by Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad and the National Centre for Physics with the support of the U.S. National Science Foundation. His PhD student Mr. Farooqi presented his research work on First National Conference on Physical and Environmental Chemistry (PEC-2010), organized by the National Centre of Excellence in Physical Chemistry, in September 2010. Dr. Zhou was invited to present her research work at the 240th American Chemical Society National Meeting in August 2010 (Boston, MA). Detailed information about the conference presentations and publications may be found in the progress report for 2010 linked at the top of this page.
2009 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Dr. Siddiq and his students examine the newly installed laser light scattering spectrophotometer in their lab at QAU (photo courtesy of Dr. Siddiq, August 25, 2009).
After completing the 14-week language class, Mr. Zahoor Hussain Farooqi began learning to synthesize and characterize smart polymeric microgel particles under the mentorship of Dr. Zhou and her research associate Dr. Weitai Wu, and he also gained expertise in utilizing laser light scattering instruments, photospectrometers, and electronic microscopes. Now that he has mastered these challenges, Mr. Farooqi is now able to synthesize routine pH-, temperature-, and glucose-sensitive polymer microgels independently, so he should be able to put his skills to use and pass them on to other students now that he has completed his visit and returned to QAU in early March 2010.
Meanwhile, after receiving his grant funds Dr. Siddiq worked to purchase the laser light scattering equipment for his lab. While awaiting its delivery and installation, he made a 2-month visit to CUNY CSI beginning June 17, 2009, to receive training from Dr. Zhou on operation of the equipment, participate in joint research activities, and monitor his student Mr. Farooqi's progress. Soon after Dr. Siddiq arrived home in August, his new equipment was installed and calibrated by a technician sent to Islamabad by the manufacturer. With the experience and skills he gained during his visit to New York, he and two M.Phil. students in his lab began using the new equipment to characterize microgels.
Dr. Zhou and Dr. Wu continued their work to study permeability of smart microgel particles in response to external stimuli and loading and releasing behavior of novel microgels for model protein drugs. Dr. Zhou presented her work at the SPIE Photonics West Conference in San Francisco January 23-25, 2010, and published two joint papers in 2009 with another accepted for publication in 2010.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
After the project began, Dr. Zhou and Dr. Siddiq worked to identify an appropriate Pakistani graduate student to come to CUNY CSI for extended training. They selected Mr. Zahoor Hussain Farooqi, and he arrived in New York on January 31, 2009, for a 13.5-month visit.
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