This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Incorporation of Nanoparticles in Polymeric Materials for Medical Applications




Ward, Christopher

Type of Degree



Polymer and Fiber Engineering


Nanomaterials have become a desirable field of research for use in the medical industry. Many modern medical techniques, devices, and medications can utilize nanomaterials for entirely new functions and designs. This dissertation details the results of two studies performed on the use of nanomaterials in polymers for potential medical applications. One important aspect of the medical field is that of drug delivery. While some delivery methods are commonplace, issues such as extremely high concentrations, repeated doses, and low patient compliance are also commonplace. This results in a need for a more sophisticated, controllable delivery method. This work focuses on the use of two distinct types of nanoparticles for controlled release applications. Halloysite nanotubes are naturally-formed nanoclay materials. The first study evaluated the use of these nanotubes as drug-loading vehicles incorporated into rate-inhibiting polymeric films, with controlled release being the main goal. The topics addressed under this objective include loading methods of the halloysite nanoclay, effects of loaded compound properties on release, and incorporation of the halloysite into a polymer matrix, poly(methyl methacrylate), to lengthen release. Results suggest that the produced nanocomposite is capable of considerable extended controlled release. Shape memory polymers are a fascinating branch of smart polymers. Traditionally, the shape memory transition in these polymers is triggered by direct heat. Alternative methods are required for when direct heat is not applicable, such as in the body. With a more acceptable, non-harmful triggering mechanism, shape memory polymers are capable of controlled release. The second study investigates a remote triggering mechanism to induce the shape memory effect in a segmented polyurethane. To do this, a method of using non-harmful near-infrared light for triggering is investigated. The photothermal properties of gold nanorods are utilized. The topics addressed under this objective are: synthesis of wavelength-dependent gold nanorods through a seed-mediated process, isolation and stability of the nanorods, incorporation of the nanorods into the polyurethane for the creation of the shape memory nanocomposite, investigation of the effects of the nanorods on the inherent polyurethane properties (thermal, mechanical, shape memory, etc.), and examination of the near-infrared, light-induced shape memory properties of the final nanocomposite.