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Study of the dynamics of polymeric ionophoric channels by scanning electrochemical and scanning kelvin probe microscopy


In this project, two relatively new microscopy techniques, Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) and the Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP) will be optimized to investigate the dynamics of artificial ionophoric channels. Both techniques in tandem will offer a powerful tool for characterizing the behavior of these materials, which will underlie future applications in sensors technology, nanotechnology and bio electrochemistry. The artificial ionophoric channels will be made by Ring Opening Metathesis of a series of substituted 7-oxanorbomene monomers. Previous work using Corey-Pauling-Koltun (CPK) molecular model indicate that these polymers have the ability to form helical structures with all of the tetrahydrofuran oxygen facing into the interior of the helix. Monomers synthesized here have different configuration of the substituent on furan ring and will therefore allow systematic structural modifications of the basic polymer skeletons; in order to enhance ion binding, ion transport and ion selectivity properties. They bind cations in a manner similar to that of the crown ethers. However, unlike the crowns, whose complex ability is determined to a large extent by the relative cation and macro cycle cavity dimensions. These polymers can effectively bind cations of widely varying by adapting their conformation to optimize its multidentate coordination with a given cation. A series of polymers of different chain length (molecular weights) will be prepared to further ion binding, ion transport and ion selectivity properties. Thin films of the polymers will be cast in special cells between a 'donor' and an 'acceptor' compartment and the membrane dynamics probed using ions of varying sizes. Probes will be prepared as required. This is an ambitious programme that will be mutually beneficial to both applicant and host. The applicant will be one of the pioneers in the development of novel applications for two relatively new scanning techniques SECM and SKP. The applicant already possesses some experience of working with polymers. He will learn new techniques (living ROMP) and analytical techniques (SECM.,SKP,SEC, MALDI-MS) as the work proceeds. The applicant benefit from the multi-disciplinary nature of the Materials Chemistry Centre and the IRC. The applicant will have the opportunity of visiting leading laboratories in SECM and SKP technologies both within the country and in Canada and Germany. The IRC runs short training courses in Polymer Chemistry (Durham), Polymer Engineering (Bradford) and Polymer Physics (Leeds) that the applicant will attend Meetings of the IRC Industrial Club and in the Chemistry department will give the applicant the opportunity to benefit from presenting his work to wide cross section of academics and industrialists. We believe that the applicant has the ability to carry out the tasks outlined in the proposal and that our group will benefit from his experience and knowledge polymer chemistry.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


South Road, Science Laboratories
DH1 3LE Durham
United Kingdom