In the last few weeks we have seen three new papers show up online. First, we have “Host response to microgel coatings on neural electrodes implanted in the brain” published in Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A. Stacy Gutowski from the Garcia group did all the heavy lifting here, wherein she implanted neural electrodes in live rodents and subsequently analyzed the wound healing response to electrodes with and without microgel-based coatings. The coatings were made and analyzed largely by two former Lyon group members: Toni South and Jeff Gaulding. The take home message here is that the coatings did not result in dramatically improved wound healing – a disappointing result, but it is gratifying to see our materials used in such a complex biomedical application.
More recently, Kim Clarke published a paper entitled “Modulation of the Deswelling Temperature of Thermoresponsive Microgel Films” in Langmuir. Kim has demonstrated that simple copolymerization approaches can be used to tightly control microgel deswelling temperatures, and that constructing films of those particles permits tuning of film thermal responses. Importantly, films composed of mixed populations of different microgels result in composite thermal responses suggesting that individual microgels retain their individual deswelling properties and are not greatly influenced by the overall film structure. For example, mixing two microgels with distinct responses in a single film will produce two distinct deswelling transitions in the film. Kim is continuing this work to further understand the role of microgel structure and polyelectrolyte interactions in film volume phase transitions.
Finally, Langmuir Invited Feature Article entitled “Dynamic Materials from Microgel Multilayers” just showed up online. Mark, Emily, and Jeff worked together to summarize the group’s efforts over the last few years on self-healing and reconfigurable interfaces composed of microgel/polyelectrolyte complexes. With work continuing on this subject, we hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our advances in self-healing materials.