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Smart Polymers

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Definition:

Smart polymers are materials composed of polymers that respond in a dramatic way to very slight changes in their environment. Scientists studying natural polymers have learned how they behave in biological systems, and are now using that information to develop similar man-made polymeric substances with specific properties. These synthetic polymers are potentially very useful for a variety of applications including some related to biotechnology and biomedicine.

Smart polymers are becoming increasingly more prevalent as scientists learn about the chemistry and triggers that induce conformational changes in polymer structures and devise ways to take advantage of, and control them. New polymeric materials are being chemically formulated that sense specific environmental changes in biological systems, and adjust in a predictable manner, making them useful tools for drug delivery or other metabolic control mechanisms.

In this relatively new area of biotechnology, the potential biomedical applications and environmental uses for smart polymers appear to be limitless.

Also Known As:

Stimulus-Responsive Polymers

Examples:

The rapid conformational change of the smart polymer, at pH 8, made it a useful medium for drug delivery.

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