The innovation engine for new materials

Gabrielle Hammersley

Gabrielle Hammersley


University of California, Santa Barbara



Site Abroad: 

Technical University Eindhoven, Netherlands


Sjors Wijnands

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Bert Meijer

Faculty Sponsor's Department: 

Chemical Engineering

Project Title: 

Studying the Dynamics of Functionalized Water-Soluble Supramolecular BTA Polymers and Their Ability Act as a Template for Self- Assembly Pathways

Project Description: 

In recent years, significant research effort has focused on creating self-assembling systems that mimic the dynamics and complexity of natural systems such as cells membranes and fibular structures. Supramolecular polymers are an example of an interesting platform for the development of dynamic biomaterials such as hydrogels, controlled drug-delivery and release systems, and tissue engineering. For this application, it is crucial to introduce functionality into these dynamic polymers and gain control over their assembly and distribution. Herein, we focus on the controlled assembly of functional 1,3,5-benzenetricarboxamide (BTA) derivatives via templated assembly and clustering. A well-defined and natural relevant template is double stranded DNA, which we aim to use to gain control over the assembly of functional BTAs in water. For this, BTAs were functionalized with NDI derivatives which are well-known and specific DNA intercalators. BTAs and a reference compound of ethylene glycol were successfully functionalized with NDI derivatives via a copper(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) click reaction. Using CuII as a precursor (CuSO4) in the presence of a reducing agent (sodium ascorbate), forms species that mediate the azide-alkyne ligation at high rates and the reaction mixture can be purified carefully using reverse phase column chromatography. The aggregation state of these compounds with DNA were studied using UV-VIS analysis techniques and initial studies confirm binding and assembly of both the reference compound and BTA-NDI to DNA.