A novel method developed by researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Jacobs University Bremen enables manufacturing of polymer layers with tailor-made properties and multiple functions: A stable porous gel (SURGEL) for biological and medical applications is obtained from a metal-organic framework (SURMOF) grown up on a substrate. The method is presented in the renowned Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Coating of solids with polymers plays a central role in many areas of technological, natural and life sciences. For example, implants for the human body e.g., cardiac pacemakers, stents, or joint prostheses, need to be coated with suitable biomaterials and then impregnated with medical agents to accelerate healing-in and suppress inflammations. KIT researchers now have developed a completely novel method for producing a gel from cross-linked organic components. "Compared to conventional polymer coatings, this gel stands out by the fact that the pore size of the layers can be specifically adapted to the bioactive substances e.g., to pharmaceutical agents, to be embedded," explains Professor Christof W-ll, Head of KIT's Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG).
The gel fabrication method developed by researchers from the KIT Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG), Institute for Biological Interfaces (ITG), and Institute for Organic Chemistry (IOC) together with the Jacobs University Bremen consists of several steps: First, a layer of a so-called metal-organic framework (MOF) is grown up on a solid substrate. In the obtained SURMOF (SURface-mounted Metal Organic Framework) layer, the size, shape, and chemical functionality of the pores can be tailored, so to speak. The layer itself, however, is not suited for use in biological environments: Its pronounced sensitivity to water causes it to be degraded very rapidly and the copper ions contained in that special type of SURMOF are toxic to living beings.