University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Enhanced Charge Transport Through Nanoconfinement
A team of accomplished researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a novel pathway for enhancing anhydrous proton transport in polymeric materials. This pathway entails generating supramolecular nanoscale confinement in polymers containing anhydrous proton transport functionalities. By carefully designing the polymer structures, the proton transport moieties of the polymers can be confined and organized within the nanoscale domains of the polymers via self-assembly, resulting in enhanced proton transport capabilities. This enhancement improves the conductivity of the polymers by 2-3 orders of magnitude. The high conductivities observed for the polymers with nanoconfinements are correlated with their ability to form locally high concentrations of proton transport moieties. These polymers allow high conductivities at high temperatures, which can increase fuel cell efficiency, lower cost, simplify heat management, and provide better tolerance of the fuel cell catalysts against poisoning.
Published: 11/19/2014   |   Inventor(s): Ryan Hayward, Sankaran Thayumanavan, Mark thomas Tuominen
Category(s): Material science, Nanotechnology, Physical Science, Devices, Clean Energy
Novel Amphiphilic Polymers for Selective Extraction and Highly Enhanced MALDI-MS Analysis of Peptides
Dr. Sankaran Thayumanavan has developed novel amphiphilic polymers capable of forming self-assembled micelle and reverse-micelle type nanostructures. These amphiphilic polymers can be used to selectively extract and enrich peptides from complex mixtures for highly enhanced analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS). The selectivity of peptide extraction is based on the difference in isoelectric points of the peptide analytes. When peptides are extracted by the amphiphilic polymers and detected by MALDI-MS in the presence of the polymers, peptide-ion signals can be enhanced by 3-5 orders of magnitude. This enormous signal enhancement enables the MALDI-MS analysis of peptides present at very low concentrations and protein digests of highly complex biological samples.
Published: 11/18/2014   |   Inventor(s): Sankaran Thayumanavan
Category(s): Research tools, Biotechnology
Novel Cleavable Block Copolymers and Functionalized Nanoporous Materials
Dr. Thayumanavan et al. have developed a facile method for synthesizing novel cleavable block copolymers useful for producing functionalized nanoporous materials. These novel cleavable block copolymers are synthesized from homopolymers generated via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), and can be readily cleaved into their constituent blocks tethered to functional handles (see figure below) under very mild reaction conditions. Upon cleaving and washing with a solvent selective for a minor constituent block after microphase separation, nanoporous materials containing functional handles in the nanopores can be generated. Further nanopore functionalization can produce a variety of polymer-based composite materials.
Published: 11/17/2014   |   Inventor(s): Suhrit Ghosh, Akamol Klaikherd, Sankaran Thayumanavan
Category(s): Material science, Physical Science, Devices & sensors, Nanotechnology
Enhanced MALDI-MS Analysis of Peptides Using Amphiphilic Homopolymers
Selective and enhanced detection of peptides from complex mixtures. A special class of polymers is used to selectively extract and concentrate peptides of interest from complex mixtures, while simultaneously enhancing their detection using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry.
Published: 11/17/2014   |   Inventor(s): Marianny Combariza, Elamprakash nesan Savariar, Sankaran Thayumanavan, Richard Vachet
Category(s): Material science, Research tools, Devices & sensors
Robust Smart Organic Nanoparticles Capable of Encapsulation and Stimuli-Responsive Release of Guest Molecules
This technology provides a new class of structurally robust smart organic nanoparticles that are formed from covalently linked organic molecules. These organic nanoparticles can be produced in one step from two readily synthesized organic starting materials in the presence of a surfactant. Unlike inorganic nanomaterials such as quantum dots and gold nanoparticles, the smart nanoparticles provided by this technology not only can be produced with excellent control over their size and conveniently functionalized surfaces, but also can act as hosts for hydrophobic guest molecules and can subsequently self-disassemble and release the guests in response to specific environmental stimuli.
Published: 11/13/2014   |   Inventor(s): Sankaran Thayumanavan, Conghui Yuan
Category(s): Nanotechnology, Devices & sensors, Material science
One of the major limitations of opioids, a class of analgesics used for pain management, is their narrow therapeutic range lacking a substantial difference between lethal and therapeutic doses. Opioid-induced toxicity leads to hypoventilation (respiratory depression), resulting in an increased concentration of CO2 and a decreased concentration of O2 in blood plasma. When administered, an overdose of opioid can cause an individual to cease breathing entirely, which is rapidly fatal without treatment. Opioid antagonists, such as naloxone and naltrexone, are effective in blocking the toxic effects of opioids; however, it is difficult to determine when such administration should be made. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop drug delivery systems that provide controlled release of opioids and opioid antagonists in response to a toxicity biomarker to prevent the lethal consequences of opioid overdose.


Dr. Thayumanavan has developed novel hydrogel-based drug delivery systems for biomarker-responsive, controlled release of opioids and opioid antagonists. Biomarker CO2 associated with opioid-induced toxicity is used as an external trigger to both release an opioid antidote and stop the release of an opioid from their respective nanogel or macrogel delivery vehicles. While nanogels enable intravenous, intramuscular administration, macrogels can be used for oral delivery. The novel hydrogel compositions developed by Dr. Thayumanavan enable the delivery vehicles to expand and contract in response to changes in the CO2 concentration, resulting in timely and controlled dosing of the opioid and opioid antidote drugs.

Published: 5/13/2013   |   Inventor(s): Sankaran Thayumanavan
Category(s): Biotechnology, Therapeutics & prevention, Healthcare, Life Sciences