Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Stansbury

Abstract

In the United States there is a growing need for materials that can probe and fight diseases of the heart, brain, and body as a whole. In this study nanogels, block copolymers, and copolymers were synthesized using solution polymerization and directed self-assembly. Results indicate that the nanogels are highly responsive to changes in pH and temperature and they are of a size (29 nanometers) that makes them viable drug delivery devices. Additionally, these nanogels macrogel at very low nanogel concentrations (10 – 15 weight %), which makes them reasonable candidates for dental repairs and enhancements. The present study also characterizes the process by which these nanogels and their precursors (block copolymers and copolymers) were synthesized. Our findings illustrate that solution polymerization followed by self-assembly is the most appropriate synthetic pathway for the synthesis of nanogels required for biomedical and dental interventions because the process allows the nanogels to retain the selected behavioral characteristics of the block copolymer and copolymer and, as this study specifically demonstrates, enhance certain copolymer and block copolymer traits. The copolymer, block copolymer, and nanogels that were synthesized in this study, therefore, could potentially be used to help researchers understand and treat some of the more deleterious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Type II diabetes.

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