Engineering Research Seminar Series 3_2011: Polymeric Nanostructures as Controlled Delivery Vehicles in Chemical and Biological Systems

Professor Michael Tam, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo

Date: 2011-01-28
Time: 11:00 to 12:00
Venue: 9-3-05


Nanotechnology is anticipated to be the next technological wave that will drive many of the innovations in science and engineering. This talk will focus on a class of amphiphilic polymers that self-assemble into different types of microstructure, depending on the solvent environment and external stimuli.  Self assembled structures can exist in many different forms, such as spherical micelles, rod-like micelles, bi-layers, vesicles, bi-continuous structure etc.  Most biological systems are basically comprised of many of these organised structures arranged in an intelligent manner, which impart functions and life to the system.  We adopted the atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) technique to synthesize various types of block copolymer systems that self-assemble into different microstructures when subject to an external stimuli, such as pH or temperature. Using a combination of various physical techniques, such as dynamic and static light scattering, surface tensiometry, transmission electron microscopy etc, the microstructures of various types of self-assembled structures were quantified. Extension of the work to include fullerene grafted with well-defined pH responsive polymers was carried out, resulting in various types of novel self-assembled fullerene structures. The physical properties and the characteristics of their self-assembly properties will be discussed, and their applications as delivery systems in various chemical and biomedical applications will be discussed.

About the Speaker

Michael Tam obtained his B.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Monash University, Australia in 1982 and 1991 respectively. He spent 18 months on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Chemical Engineering, McMaster University Canada, and subsequently taught at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore for 15 years. In June 2007 he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo as a tenured full professor. His research interests are in colloids, self assembly systems, polymer-surfactant interactions, and drug delivery systems. He has published more than 200 journal articles in various fields of polymer science & engineering and nanotechnology.