Polymer colloids (Olga Koshkina, Frederik Wurm)
We develop tailored polymer colloids and bridge their structural and surface properties to function, with the big goal to improve human life and the environment.
In this interdisciplinary research, we use a unique variety of techniques, starting from the synthesis of well-defined macromolecules, and colloids to their in-depth characterization and biological and functional testing. We develop tailor-made colloids using self-assembly, microemulsion, and miniemulsion techniques. To unravel the properties of colloids, we combine a range of advanced characterization techniques, particularly Static and Dynamic Light Scattering in water and complex physiological media, such as serum, Small-Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS), NMR spectroscopy, and various microscopy methods (SEM; AFM). We connect fundamental concepts of macromolecular and colloid chemistry to application.
Currently, we focus on two research domains:
Polymer colloids for human health (Olga Koshkina):
Our research focuses on colloids, such as polymer micelles, nanocapsules, and other colloidal nanostructures for heteronuclear, “hot spot” Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) via 19F and 31P nuclei, ultrasound, and optoacoustic imaging as well as nanocarriers for the delivery of therapeutics.
To achieve this goal, it is essential to synthesize tailored colloids, understand how they interact with biomolecules and cells, and link the molecular and structural properties of colloids to their function, for example to the magnetic resonance characteristics. Therefore, the structure-function-relationship builds the core of this research.
In our approach, we go beyond the sole performance of colloids. Nowadays, environmental pollution by medical residues becomes a concerning issue that eventually will have a strong impact on human health. We consider the interplay between humans and the environment and focus on the development of sustainable biomedical colloids, for example reducing the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other toxic compounds.
Nanocarriers for drug delivery to plants (Frederik Wurm)
To make agriculture sustainable and reduce, or ideally completely avoid pesticide spraying, we translate the concepts of drug delivery plants. Therefore, we develop nanocarriers that can be injected into the trunk of a plant and serve as a selective depot for the pesticide or other drug instead of unselective spraying.
This research line starts with the synthesis of tailored biodegradable colloids, using natural materials for example lignin, which is a waste from the paper industry. We further translate the production to a larger scale and finally perform field tests in our garden at UT.
Polymer colloids for human health:
Koshkina, O. , Raju, L. T., Kaltbeitzel, A., Riedinger, A. , Lohse, D. , Zhang, X., & Landfester, K. (2022). Surface Properties of Colloidal Particles Affect Colloidal Self-Assembly in Evaporating Self-Lubricating Ternary Droplets. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 14(1), 2275-2290. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c19241
Hoogendijk, E., Swider, E., Staal, A. H. J., White, P. B., Van Riessen, N. K., Glaßer, G., Lieberwirth, I., Musyanovych, A., Serra, C. A., Srinivas, M. , & Koshkina, O. (2020). Continuous-Flow Production of Perfluorocarbon-Loaded Polymeric Nanoparticles: From the Bench to Clinic. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 12(44), 49335-49345. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.0c12020, https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.0c12020
Koshkina, O. , Lajoinie, G., Baldelli Bombelli, F., Swider, E., Cruz, L. J., White, P. B., Schweins, R., Dolen, Y., van Dinther, E. A. W., van Riessen, N. K., Rogers, S. E., Fokkink, R., Voets, I. K., van Eck, E. R. H., Heerschap, A. , Versluis, M. , de Korte, C. L. , Figdor, C. G., de Vries, I. J. M., & Srinivas, M. (2019). Multicore Liquid Perfluorocarbon-Loaded Multimodal Nanoparticles for Stable Ultrasound and 19 F MRI Applied to In Vivo Cell Tracking. Advanced functional materials, 29(19), . https://doi.org/10.1002/adfm.201806485
Nanocarriers for drug delivery to plants:
 S.J. Beckers, A.H.J. Staal, C. Rosenauer, M. Srinivas, K. Landfester, F.R. Wurm, Targeted Drug Delivery for Sustainable Crop Protection: Transport and Stability of Polymeric Nanocarriers in Plants, Advanced Science 8(11) (2021) 2100067
 J. Fischer, S.J. Beckers, D. Yiamsawas, E. Thines, K. Landfester, F.R. Wurm, Targeted Drug Delivery in Plants: Enzyme-Responsive Lignin Nanocarriers for the Curative Treatment of the Worldwide Grapevine Trunk Disease Esca, Advanced Science 6(15) (2019) 1802315
 T.O. Machado, J. Grabow, C. Sayer, P.H.H. de Araújo, M.L. Ehrenhard, F.R. Wurm, Biopolymer-based nanocarriers for sustained release of agrochemicals: A review on materials and social science perspectives for a sustainable future of agri- and horticulture, Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 303 (2022) 102645.