21 Aug 2013
Leverhulme travel bursar Pietro Locatelli attended the European Polymer Federation Congress in Pisa from 16-21 June 2013. He reports:
The European Polymer Federation (EPF) Congress has been held in a number of European cities since its inception in 1997, and took place this year in Pisa.
The conference was divided into seven major topics ranging from novel synthesis routes to processability and final properties, nanotechnology to environmental application, recycling to biomaterials and electronics. Almost 1400 delegates from 74 countries illustrated their results with oral and poster contributions.
Numerous projects focused on the production and designing of nanoparticles. Indeed, the congress was opened with a plenary lecture titled 'A molecular screw clamp: reaction at the interface of droplets' presented by Dr Landfester from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. The importance given to nanoparticles was my reason for attending, and gave me a good opportunity to present the research I lead at the University of Manchester's School of Materials.
Nanoparticles can be both inorganic, such as metal nanoparticles (gold), organic as polymer nanoparticles (PNP) or a combination of the two types (organometallic particles). PNPs in particular are an increasing field of research due to the large number of potential applications in materials, medicine and electronics. They can be mainly produced via precipitation, or the collapse of preformed polymer, or polymerisation in situ. The nature of the polymer and the procedure parameters are fundamental to control properties and the morphology of the nanoparticles.
At EFP2013 we showed a new route for the production of polyurea nanoparticles developed with Huntsman polyurethanes. The effect of the chemical structure on particles morphology and formation were illustrated in a poster. Unlike the standard techniques, this new procedure does not involve a preformed polymer nor an emulsion polymerisation. Both the polymerisation and the nanoprecipitation occur in the same solvent within an hour and on grams-scale.
It was pleasant to see the number of people, both from university and industry asking for further information, and they were evidently struck by the novelty and originality of this procedure. They displayed interest both in the formation of the nanoparticles and potential applications. This positive feedback was even strengthened by the request of a digital copy of the poster/future publication by Dr Stephan Neffgen (Head of R&D of DMG) and the possibility of a lecture at the University of Bologna. This was most gratifying for the work done and highly motivating for future plans.
My attendance at EPF2013 was extremely useful for my PhD and brought interesting new ideas for further developments. It was also a good opportunity to meet researchers in an early stage of their career. This encouraged vivid conversations and helped to establish new connections. In conclusion, a great experience both on a professional and personal level.
University of Manchester