Tracey Ho from the SISM Group has just had accepted the first paper from her thesis work. The manuscript is now online at Soft Matter. Tracey’s thesis work focuses on soft surface coatings, made using the technique of polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) formation. PEM formation relies on the sequential adsorption of oppositely charged polymers, building up layer-by-layer coatings that can be used as lubricants, drug delivery vehicles, and as anti-fouling coatings. Her main interest is in aqueous lubricants – layers that can be used to reduce friction and wear in applications where the lubrication fluid is water (as opposed to oil).
The polymers she uses to make her films are polysaccharides – natural biopolymers that can be obtained from a range of plant and animal sources. She uses chitosan, which is a common biopolymer derived from crustacean shells, and fucoidan, which is a less commonly studied biopolymer extracted from seaweed. She calls her surface coatings “sushi sandwiches” 🙂
The first paper focuses on the formation of PEMs using two different fucoidans (extracted from two different seaweed species), and the effect of altered fucoidan chemistry on the layer formation and characteristics. Tracey has been lucky enough to have support during her PhD studies from Marinova, a Tasmanian biotech company that harvests and processes seaweed to yield exceptionally pure and well-characterised fucoidans. Dr Damien Stringer from Marinova is one of the paper co-authors.
Well done Tracey.