There is tremendous current interest in developing systems that can respond to a change in environmental conditions such as pH, temperature, light, etc. A major application is using this change to trigger the release of a compound, such as a buffer or drug as temperature increases, an antioxidant in response to light or oxygen, or an agrochemical in response to humidity or light levels.
Recent work in the applicant’s laboratory at the University of Bath has used modern methods of synthesizing polymers with controlled structures to prepare responsive materials to meet these aims. In particular, in 2018, a Masters student developed a system whereby we could grow responsive polymers from the surface of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, thereby opening the possibility of using a magnetic field to position and trigger release (through inductive heating) of components.
We propose to continue this work in two areas. Firstly, we will continue the development of polymer systems capable of encapsulating agrochemicals and releasing then under different temperature profiles. These would have application in the more sustainable use of agrochemicals such as pesticides and in eliminating waste and pollution of water courses. The second target will be to develop nanoparticles with better magnetic properties so that they are more responsive to magnetic fields and combine these with responsive polymers.