Electrochemically Degradable Polymers
A large number of polymers derive their useful materials properties in part from the extent of covalent cross-linking between chains. However, once these materials have been cross-linked, their materials properties are rarely alterable.
We are developing new polymer cross-linking agents that are electrochemically degradable. Polymers cross-linked by these agents should have the same useful materials properties of the parent polymers cross-linked by traditional agents, but the new polymer cross-links should be degradable upon electrical stimulation. Thus the electrochemically degradable polymer (EDP) would have material properties that could be switched upon demand by electrochemical means.
We expect the EDPs to have broad applicability in a number of fields including drug delivery, microfluidics, and surgical materials. For example, if a useful drug such as insulin were trapped within polymer microspheres made of an EDP and the resulting microspheres in a microelectrochemical device were implanted in a patient with type II diabetes, it may be possible to cause stimulated release of insulin on demand, thus obviating the need for frequent insulin injections.