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ERC

Regenerate Report Summary

Project ID: 637920
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Regenerate (Self-regenerating Functional Surfaces – Towards a Technology Platform for New Materials and Devices)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The aim for this research project is a technology platform that allows the self-regeneration of surface properties. In current technology, many devices fail when their surfaces are contaminated. We therefore wanted to develop a material that can selectively and sequentially shed its contaminated or defective layers, like a reptile shedding its skin, and present a fresh, functional one.
The target material consists of discrete, non-interpenetrating, alternating layers of functional and degradable polymers. When the upper functional layer is contaminated or damaged, the layer underneath is degraded. This enables shedding of the entire topmost functional layer. Due to a degradability gradient through the stack, only the top degradable layer should be removed, so that the stack can be “skinned” sequentially. The selective and sequential shedding of polymer layers from a multi-stack, with the aim of obtaining functionally intact successive layers, is so far an unresolved and therefore extremely attractive, fundamentally important concept, both from a basic science and an application point of view. Solving this problem would open up a new field in materials science.
We want to demonstrate the feasibility of our concept with two research objectives: Objective 1: Sequential regeneration of a functional surface property, exemplified by antimicrobial activity; Objective 2: Regeneration of the activity of a functional device, exemplified by a glucose sensor.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

For Objective 1, we first had to compiled a “toolbox” of polymers with different degradation rates to enable sequential and selective layer shedding. The synthesis and polymer characterization of these polymers are finished; the polymer degradation rates have been quantified usind three methods specifically developed for this project. The polymers had degradation rates that differed by a factor of 25, which is suitalbe for their applications in a multilayer system. We also synthesized novel functional polymers for Objective 1, including cross-linkable and fluorescent ones. We then assembled these different components to build the target system, a polymer multistack. With a series of experiments, we demonstrated under which conditions such a stack can shed layers, and where such shedding fails.
For Objective 2, preliminary work has been performed (e.g. synthesis of a single layer electrode on platinum). Full work on this project part will start in the second half of the project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

• Three methods to study degradation of surface-attached (polymer) films.
• Synthesis of several novel monomers and polymers.
• Novel methods to selectively and sequentially shed polymer layers from a multistack.
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