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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 27, 2006

UI Engineer Receives $239,000 NSF Grant For Polymer Research

C. Allan Guymon, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, recently received a three-year, $239,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for polymer research.

The grant, formally titled "Kinetic Control of Polymer Nanostructure in Lyotropic Liquid Crystalline Systems," involves polymers formed using light, such as those used in dental fillings and the clear coating on DVDs.

"Specifically, the funded research will use light to make polymers, like those used in plastics and paints that have structure on the nanometer size scale," Guymon says. "The structure of the polymer will be formed using lyotropic liquid crystals or, more simply, high amounts of soap in water. The use of light in making these materials is very important, as the speed of formation is critical in developing controllable structures for nanotechnology."

One of the most promising advances that could result from this research is the ability to control properties based on nano-scale architectures, he adds. Control over properties including mechanical strength, degradation, and drug delivery could be achieved.

"We believe that this research will lead to advanced materials in applications including membrane separation technology and contact lenses. In particular, nanostructured polymers prepared using lyotropic liquid crystals show the ability to change the growth and development of tissue in the body, including applications to help treat conditions that lead to blindness," he says.

Additionally, over the past four years, Guymon has taught about the importance of polymers at both Iowa City West High School and Clear Creek Amana High School to more than 20 chemistry classes. This grant will also help in incorporating the importance of nanotechnology as part of this ongoing collaboration.

In 2002, Guymon was among some 60 U.S. researchers to receive Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in ceremonies with President Bush at the White House. The PECASE program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

In 2001 as a CAREER Award winner, Guymon received a $375,000, five-year NSF grant to study photopolymerization.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

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