8-12 Dec 2019, Singapore
Andrew Whittaker is Deputy Director International at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland. He is a polymer chemist with an international reputation in three fields; 1) magnetic resonance of materials, 2) polymeric biomaterials and 3) polymers for photolithography. In the field of NMR and MRI of materials he has performed important research on the structure of inorganic and organic materials; in the field of biomaterials he has made advances to our understanding of transport in biomaterials, and the design of novel imaging agents; in the field of lithography his work continues to inform the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. Whittaker leads a group of ~40 researchers investigating the application of advanced polymer chemistry to important technological questions. His work is heavily funded by national funding agencies and industry. In particular he has attracted substantial funding from national and international companies, including Dow, Intel, Sematech, Eli Lilly, etc. Whittaker has been chair of the RACI National Polymer Division and President of the Pacific Polymer Federation. He has won numerous awards, including in 2011 an ARC Australian Professorial Fellowship, and in 2015 the Chinese Academy of Sciences Presidents International Fellowship.
"Bringing Materials to Life"
Polymeric materials have the capacity to adapt and respond to their environment. We are all aware that the elastic properties of many polymers allow them to respond to a mechanical force by returning to their initial state. However, polymers can be designed to respond to other environmental stimuli; for e.g. the hydrophilic nature of hydrogels allows them to absorb water and increase in volume when exposed to moisture. In an important example, a number of polymers are strongly sensitive to changes in temperature, and may exhibit a large change in volume at a specific temperature. Such responsiveness is particularly important for polymers intended for use as biomaterials, and has led to the development of responsive polymers for applications such as triggered drug delivery, as imaging agents, and as bio-sensitive actuators in devices. In this presentation I will describe the design of polymers which are able to respond to changes in light intensity, pH, ionic strength, redox/potential and temperature. The materials we have developed have potential for application as MRI agents, however the design principles can be extended to many other application areas, and this will be discussed. I will also describe recent work on hydrogels which undergo controlled 3D deformation on changes in temperature or ionic strength.