Synthesis and evaluation of nanoparticle-polymer composites

  • Evita Chundoo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis describes the synthesis of functionalised polymeric material by variety of free-radical mediated polymerisation techniques including dispersion emulsion, seeded emulsion, suspension and bulk polymerisation reactions.

Organic fluorophores and nanoparticles such as quantum dots were incorporated within polymeric materials, in particular, thiol-functionalised polymer microspheres, which were fluorescently labelled either during synthesis or by covalent attachment post synthesis. The resultant fluorescent polymeric conjugates were then assessed for their utility in biological systems as an analytical tool for cells or biological structures.

Quantum dot labelled, thiol-functionalised microspheres were assessed for their utility in the visualisation and tracking of red blood cells. Determination of the possible internalisation of fluorescent microspheres into red blood cells was required before successful tracking of red blood cells could take place. Initial work appeared to indicate the presence of fluorescent microspheres inside red blood cells by the process of beadfection. A range of parameters were also investigated in order to optimise beadfection.

Thiol-functionalised microspheres labelled successfully with organic fluorophores were used to image the tear film of the eye. A description of problems encountered with the covalent attachment of hydrophilic, thiol-reactive fluorescent dyes to a variety of modified polymer microspheres is also included in this section. Results indicated large microspheres were particularly useful when tracking the movement of fluid along the tear meniscus.

Functional bulk polymers were synthesised for assessment of their interaction with titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Thiol-functionalised polymethyl methacrylate and spincoated thiouronium-functionalised polystyrene appeared to facilitate the attachment of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Interaction assays included the use of XPS analysis and processes such as centrifugation. Attempts to synthesise 4-vinyl catechol, a compound containing hydroxyl moieties with potential for coordination with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, were also carried out using 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde as the starting material.
Date of Award8 Jan 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndrew J Sutherland (Supervisor)


  • Thiol-functionalised microspheres
  • quantum dots
  • red blood cells
  • tear film
  • titanium dioxide nanoparticles

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