Harnessing photochemistry and photophysics of metal complexes for responsive metallosupramolecular materials

September 15, 2017

Dr. Alexis Ostrowski, Department of Chemistry, Bowling Green State University

We are designing new materials that take advantage of the unique photochemistry and photophysics of metal-coordination complexes to create responsive behavior. We use both natural polymers, as well as synthetic polymers with designed ligands that coordinate transition metal ions. By tuning the choice of ligand or metal ion, we can tune the reactivity due to the changing metal-ligand binding interactions. We have integrated such metal-coordination bonding into polysaccharide-based materials to create   hotoresponsive hydrogels.  These gels showed changes in mechanical properties and pore size after light irradiation, and could be used as scaffold materials for tissue engineering. We also created model polymer materials to understand how we could influence and control material properties by tuning the metal ion and ligand. We showed that by changing the geometry of ligand coordination, we could control the mechanical properties of the resulting materials. In addition, such metallopolymers showed reversible photoreactivity, where light irradiation led to softening of the materials.