(181bd) Synthesizing Novel Degradable Polymers with Tunable Mechanical Properties

Authors: 
Duffie, W. R., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Duffie, W. R., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Walker, T. W., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Walker, T. W., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Brenza, T. M., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Brenza, T. M., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Kalaga, E. A., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Kalaga, E. A., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Hydrolytically labile polymers, particularly polyanhydrides and polyesters, have been extensively investigated for their use in applications of medical biotechnology. Interfacial condensation, phosgene coupling, dehydrochlorination, dehydrated coupling, and melt polycondensation are popular methods of synthesizing these materials. Current methods for synthesis are inexpensive and easily scalable; however, applications of the resulting polymers have been limited, as their shelf life is short, and they are difficult to handle and to fabricate.

Melt polycondensation is being utilized to create novel polyanhydride and polyester complexes that readily degrade in water. These polymers are subjected to a standard set of protocols for material characterization, which includes DMA, DSC, FTIR, NMR, GPC-MALS, and rheometry. This comprehensive characterization allows for deliberate engineering to achieve targeted chemical, geometric, and mechanical functionality of polymers. However, these standard characterization techniques do not provide quantitative information about rates and methods of degradation. Thus, fabrication of a frugal microfluidic flow apparatus has been developed to access polymer degradation kinetics. The series of solidification, subtractive, and additive processing techniques that are used to create this microfluidic device exemplify the possible manipulation of experimental parameters to not only assess additional polymer properties but also further incorporate novel biodegradable polymers into research and industrial applications.