Electrically stimulated polymers eyed for medical devices


Duke scientists have discovered a potentially interesting way to deliver drugs from an internal medical device, such as a drug-eluting stent.

In research published in the journal Advanced Materials, Xuanhe Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, demonstrated that the surface texture of polymers can be altered on demand through application of an electric current.

"We invented a method which is capable of dynamically generating a rich variety of patterns with various shapes and sizes on large areas of soft plastics or polymers," Zhao said

"By changing the voltage applied to the polymer, we can alter the surface from bumpy to smooth and back again," said Zhao. It had been previously demonstrated that plastics' surfaces can be permanently textured through electrostatic lithography, in which patterns are "etched" onto a surface from an electrode located above the polymer. In the Duke innovation, the texturing is not done for permanent, or cosmetic purposes, but for short-term, functional purposes....
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