Dissertation Defense: Eleni Hughes
Candidate: Eleni Hughes
Advisor: Edward Van Keuren, Ph.D.
Title: Fundamentals and Applications of Phase Separation Kinetics in Multicomponent Polymer Systems
Understanding the nature of multicomponent phase separations is vital for progress in a broad range of scientific and industrial fields, ranging from cell biology to material engineering. One major application discussed in this dissertation is the formation of polymer-based nanoparticles for medical applications, where the kinetics of encapsulation and release of various components is not yet very well understood but has a large impact on the efficacy of nanoparticle therapeutics.
In Chapters 4 and 5, I discuss experiments geared towards imaging structures formed in polymer-based films and two-phase aqueous systems during phase separation and analyzing the formation of these structures as they emerge in real time. Chapter 6 summarizes a medical application in developing a novel nanoparticle therapeutic for the treatment of acute kidney injury using a hydrogen peroxide-responsive polymer, PVAX. This application motivates the research discussed in Chapters 7, 8, and 9 which focus on different methods of component encapsulation in various nanoparticles as well as mechanisms for tracking encapsulation and release of different nanoparticle components