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Final Report Summary - DENDREAMERS (Functional liquid Crystalline dendrimers: Synthesis of New Materials, Resource for New Applications)

Executive Summary:

The dominating result of the project is the education of young researchers, but this includes and is connected with very exciting results in basic research and results in applied research.

Next lines summarize the most important achievements according to the four objectives planned in the Dendreamers proposal.

Objective 1: Training of 16 European PhD (ESR) and improving the skills of 9 post-docs (ER) in this multidisciplinary field. The real situation was the hiring of 18 ESRs, 8 ERs and 3 Visitors. Complete information in our web-site about the fellows, their publications, etc.:

15 ESRs has finished or are finishing their theses. There’s been some delay, due to the general delay in the start of the effective work within the project, as well as specific delays in some of the contracts (bureaucratic problems, mainly). But, fortunately, all the ESRs with foreseen thesis are finishing properly (when necessary, their institution have provided them with additional resources and time so as to let them finalise their theses).

It is very important to remark the participation of the training and coaching company Idrealizer within the project (, Mr Frans Dekker), in direct collaboration with the Management Team (Francisco Rubio and Juan I. Gallego) so as to complement the training and coaching activities for the fellows. (More details, in Section 3, “Work progress and achievements during the period”).

Objective 2: Synthesis and characterization of new functional LC dendrimers for Biomedical and Science Materials applications.

The synthesis of new dendritic structures, the design of which has been based on previous results, has been accomplished during this period. In this respect, research groups devoted to the preparation of materials have focused their efforts on the following items:

Azobenzene-containing dendrimers for photochromic materials, Dendrimers for hybrid nanocomposites, Dendrimers for electroactive materials, Cholesterol-based dendrimers, MRI contrast agents based on fullerene-containing dendrimers, Amphiphilic dendrimers for encapsulation of anticancer drugs and Bis-MPA derivatives for biomedical applications (gene therapy, MRI and drug delivery.

The liquid crystal behavior of most of the compounds has been studied using the usual techniques, POM, DSC and X-ray diffraction. The synthetic and characterization work, mostly belong to UHULL, CNRS-IPCMS, KTU and UNIZAR partners.

Objective 3: Study of the physical properties of the new materials synthesized.

With respect to properties evaluation of optimized materials, significant advances have been done in this period concerning three types of physical studies:

i) IAP has focused on the interaction of LC dendrimers with light, by incorporation of photoactive groups in the structure of the dendrimer. The induction of optical anisotropy in films and recording polarization and surface relief gratings have been the research targets.
ii) IST has devoted the research on molecular dynamics and search for peculiar nematic phases and biaxial nematic behaviour, undertaken by NMR studies and combined with molecular modellization by UPATRAS.
iii) The study of semiconducting properties, mostly concentrated in ambipolar charge-transport and hole-drift mobility, of adequately designed molecular materials has been carried out by KTU.

Objective 4: Survey of the potential applications of the compounds prepared in both Biomedicine and Materials Science fields.

Applications in Biomedicine have been pursued by NANOLOGICA, PHARMAMAR, UNIZAR and CNRS. The most significant findings are the following:

i) Biocompatible drug carriers and drug solubility enhancers based on a new type of monodisperse silica mesoporous nanoparticles in which dendrimeric units have been used as templates.
ii) Bis-MPA dendrons have been conveniently funtionalized in order to achieve Gene carriers, based on amino-terminated dendritic structures, MRI contrast agents, based on Bis-MPA dendrons bearing Gd(III)DOTA, and drug carriers based on amphiphilic dendrimers.
iii) Research on LC dendrimers containing fullerenes, C60 or C80, has led to Water soluble MRI contrast agents based on GdN3 endohedral complexes.

Applications in Materials Science have been mainly investigated with respect to devices for optical and electronic devices.

i) The group of the Fraunhofer IAP has been prepared anisotropic films or diffraction grating based on materials provided by the partner groups from CNRS, UHULL and UNIZAR.
ii) The work of the KTU group has devoted the research on applications to the fabrication of (opto)electronic devices such as organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) based on dendritic molecular materials.

As a general conclusion it can be stated that, during the project, there has been active connection between synthetic groups and partners devoted to properties. As a consequence of this, we have been able to end up with a variety of dendritic materials appropriate for their application in biomedicine and as advanced materials. Photoresponsive dendritic materials showing phenomena related with anisotropic processing and diffraction gratings and LC dendrimers with conductive properties are outstanding results derived from the interaction between groups in this project. The research carried out on drug delivery systems and MRI contrast agents based on LC dendrimers has broaden the interest on LC dendrimers with motivating opportunities as materials for biomedicine. Most of the results achieved from this project correspond to basic research and are promising enough to encourage further investigation in several applications fields, i.e. biomedicine, light responsive devices, semiconducting materials, etc.

All Partners have been committed, along the project, to maximising the potential impact of the knowledge to be created both in terms of its dissemination to relevant researchers that can take advantage of the project results to envisage new research lines or improve the existing ones and to end-users, industry. The support of the EU will be recognised in all the publication and dissemination activities resulting from the project.

For this purpose, several dissemination routes have been followed:

o Project web site.
o Publicity actions.
o Attendance to scientific congresses, etc.
o Publications in scientific magazines.
o Patents.

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