Conjugated polymers are unique materials for use in the development of chemical and biological sensors because of their widely tunable optical and electrical properties that allow them dual functionality as both the sensing element and the signal transducer. Furthermore, as optical photoluminescence based sensors, electroactive polymers are found to exhibit high sensitivity due to the ability of the analyte of interest to quench the photoluminescence of the entire polymer chain. In order to produce a more chemically robust thin film for use as a "solid-state" optical sensor, we succeeded in grafting various poly (3-alkyl-thiophene)s to optically transparent substrates such as glass, quartz, and ITO coated glass. This was accomplished by first grafting a thiophene monomer to the surface then chemically growing the films via oxidative polymerization. XPS studies indicated that each chemical step was accurately understood. The polythiophene growth, unaltered by sonication and tape peeling tests, was uniform across the substrate and could be directed by selective silanization of the substrate. Film thicknesses range from 20 to 200 nm and exhibit varying degrees of surface roughness, depending on the polymerization process. The reaction times and solvents were varied in order to optimize the desired film properties. The absorption and photoluminescence properties of the thin films compared well with literature on spun-cast polythiophene films, as did the electrical conductivities of the doped and undoped material. The photoluminescence intensities of the films are found to be unaffected by paraquat in water but are sensitive to trace amounts of ferric chloride in acetonitrile with measurable Stern Volmer constants.
Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are attracting a great deal of interest in the scientific community for their use in applications ranging from light weight structures in space to micro-actuators in MEMS devices. These relatively new materials can be formed into a primary shape, reformed into a stable secondary shape, and then controllably actuated to recover their primary shape. The first part of this presentation will be a brief review of the types of polymeric structures which give rise to shape memory behavior in the context of new shape memory polymers with highly regular network structures recently developed at LLNL for biomedical devices. These new urethane SMPs have improved optical and physical properties relative to commercial SMPs, including improved clarity, high actuation force, and sharper actuation transition. In the second part of the presentation we discuss the development of SMP based devices for mechanically removing neurovascular occlusions which result in ischemic stroke. These devices are delivered to the site of the occlusion in compressed form, are pushed through the occlusion, actuated (usually optically) to take on an expanded conformation, and then used to dislodge and grip the thrombus while it is withdrawn through the catheter.