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Self-Assembly of Gels

Dominique Hourdet, Yvette Tran, Tetsuharu Narita

The research activities developed in our group aim to improve understanding
of the relationships between macromolecular architecture, assembling properties
of polymers in solvent media and macroscopic properties of complex formulations.

In this framework, everything starts with the synthesis
of original macromolecular structures designed with specific groups. These
are able to interact, respond or chemically react with targeted partners,
either spontaneously or under given environmental conditions. Using either
synthetic or natural polymers, we aim to apply this strategy to a wide
number of polymer formulations which can find applications in very different
technological areas such as drilling fluids, cosmetics, paints, food additives
and pharmaceuticals.

In the case of viscous solutions or physical gels, we
are interested to solve the structure of transient networks and to control
the viscoelastic properties of these systems through

- 1) the connectivity
of the network (interplay between polymer architecture and concentration)
and

- 2) the dynamics of the associations taking place between the stickers
themselves or between stickers and specific targets (molecules or surfaces),
either organic or inorganic.

In the case of covalent gels, we aim to design single,
multiple or interpenetrated networks in order

- 1) to control the swelling/collapse
behaviour and the diffusion process of small molecules or drugs embedded
inside the polymer matrix and

- 2) to improve the mechanical properties
of these soft and fragile materials, under small and large deformations.