Recently, it has been shown that surface properties have a major influence on the development and preservation of certain cellular properties. This means that not only the interaction of cells with each other, but also the interaction of cells with biomaterial surfaces, extracellular matrix material determine both the differentiation (or dedifferentiation) and the conservation of cells.
The chemistry on the surface of biomaterials is the interface where the interaction between cells and surfaces takes place(this is of course especially true for adherent cells). In view of the complexity of the cell surface, which consists of different lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, the design of a new surface chemistry, innovative biomaterials appears to be a challenge. The potential chemical space that encompasses such an interaction between cell membrane and biomaterial surface is certainly huge and not yet sufficiently investigated. Besides the biochemical biological and physical parameters that influence stem cell differentiation, not much is known about cell-material interaction, as it is a complex bi-directional and dynamic process. Some studies have demonstrated the influence of simple functional organic groups on cell differentiation.
To map the complexity of the cell membrane to the surface of the biomaterials, one can imagine an intricate chemistry of bioconjugation. By exploiting the isomerization feature of certain organic molecules, switchable surfaces can be obtained. We developed a switchable polymer surface by functionalization with 5-((2Z,4E)-5-(diethylamino)-2-hydroxypenta-2,4-dien-1-ylidene)-2,2-dimethyl-1,3-dioxane-4,6-dione, which changes its surface properties when irradiated with visible light (515 nm).
We are interested in developing bioorganic surfaces with externally tunable properties. These stimulus-dependent materials will be used to develop new methods for biotechnology. In addition to stimulation-sensitive materials, we would also investigate novel organic surfaces that can modulate cell behavior. We believe that such a joint research venture of chemistry and biology could be very useful to discover differentiation regulating biomaterials.
Over centuries natural and synthetic organic molecules in the form of dyes and pigments have been introduced to the mankind which provides the esthetic sense to the life in the form of colors. Modern biotech has used the color characteristic of these molecules to observe the biochemical phenomenon in biological assays. In our research, obviously, we got also fascinated by the color reactions, and always curious to discover hidden chemistry that can sense a chemical or bimolecular species in polymer bound or free form.
Chemistry for environment
In the last century plastic products has revolutionized the world. Since the early 1900s, synthetic polymers have been introduced as man-made materials that have been used for many purposes in our daily life. In addition to the first examples of polymer like bakelite, polyethylene, polystyrene etc., polycarbonate (PC), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polypropylene (PP) ( to name only a few) has received a great success in the plastic industry, due to its high performance properties like transparency, temperature resistance and toughness. Due to the relatively high usability and low price, the demand for various plastics keeps increasing. Consequently the amount of waste plastics has increased gradually in municipal solid wastes. It was reported that 60 million tons of waste plastics were generated in the year of 2011 in China, and approximately 59 wt.% of them was not recycled but disposed in landfills or incinerators. The utility of polycarbonate has spread to packaging, medical, construction, electronic and multimedia industries. According to the data from “Plastics insight”, alone in year 2016 5100 Kt of polycarbonate was produced. Through this huge production huge amount of synthetic polymers are entering into our ecosystem. In our efforts to contribute toward environment we keep looking for methods by which recycling or upcycling of plastic waste can be done. An example is given below.