MESA+ University of Twente
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Edmondo Benetti (promotion date: 23 April 2009)

Molecular engineering of designer surfaces by controlled radical polymerizations: brushes, hedges and hybrid grafts

Promotion date: 23. April 2009

Promotor: Prof. dr. Julius Vansco

The aim was to develop new fabrication techniques, based on surface-initiated controlled polymerization (SIP) for the preparation of functional polymeric platforms across the length-scales.

The results presented, illustrate how the fabrication of polymeric platforms using SIP-based methods represents a versatile and powerful surface engineering technique. Several examples of the preparation of chemically structured polymeric coatings aimed at a wide range of applications were given. Spanning from the synthesis of bio-interfaces to the preparation of polymer/metal hybrid surfaces, surface modification using grafted polymers has been revealed as a key enabling approach in materials science. New approaches for the immobilization of macromolecules in predetermined positions at surfaces, highlighted the high potential of the techniques used for surface engineering at the single molecular level.

Regarding your thesis work, you seem to be a real experimentalist

I like to work “hands on” in the lab. Developing theories and simulations alone, I find too boring. Of course, a good overview of existing techniques and theoretical insight, is necessary to develop new fabrication techniques of polymer coatings, and new methods of characterizing them. Apart from the knowledge and skills, I discovered that organizing on the job, is important to obtain good and timely results.

Why is it you show so many different techniques in your thesis book

The object was based on the optimization of new approaches for the synthesis of functional polymer films from self-assembled monolayers on metallic surfaces. As an example we were able to develop and optimize the use of UV-initiated polymerization on such starting platforms.

In other cases the coupling of modern nano-lithographic techniques and controlled SIP allowed us to grow almost single macromolecules on determined positions on surfaces, an important achievement if we think about the development of bio-sensors or we just want to study the physical behavior of “isolated” polymer molecules.

What is in your opinion characteristic for working at MESA+?

First of all, as it is, it is very good. It is a nice place to work, a lot of funding is at hand, the facilities are great. Also the institute, like the most organizational things in Holland, is very well organized. Much more than I am, in fact. I’m rather messy.

But what I appreciated most, is that even as a young researcher you have the possibility to start developing projects on your own. You really have the opportunity to learn. Everybody has a fair chance to develop him- of herself.

What are your future plans?

At this moment I am working on a post-doc project in Padova. It is at the university where I was a master student at the time. After that I’m looking for a nice research job at a research institute. Singapore seems very attractive to me. At this stage in my life it is a great opportunity starting to learn this culture.