Conjugated polymers (CPs) are of particular interest in electroresponsive tissue engineering where it is necessary for the material to be flexible and biocompatible. But they must also retain their conductivity in the physiological environment – which isn’t always easy to achieve.
Kristina is interested in modifying poly(3,4-ethylendioxythiophene) (PEDOT) – a well-known, biocompatible CP – with doping side groups. These groups, covalently bonded to the backbone of the CP, dope PEDOT and make it conductive without common problems like dopant loss in biological conditions. They also circumvent the need for a polymeric dopant that can compromise the overall conductivity or biocompatibility of the material. The processing of the polymer also plays a critical role in determining the scalability of production and the final biocompatibility of the therapy, which is why Kristina is particularly excited by the water soluble and processable nature of the new CP.