Nanohybrids and Interactive polymers

The core research activity of our Group centers on the molecular and multifunctional design of new nanostructured polymer materials and nanohybrids with prop./applic. of high technological interest in Biomedicine, Optoelectronics, Energy and Environment.


1- Development and application of strategies to yield new monomers and mono-/multi-functional polymers.

Design and synthesis of new monomers and of co-/polymers with size, nanostructure, morphology and/or controlled functionality able to respond to external stimuli (T, pH, light or electromagnetic field), mainly by controlled radical polymerization (RAFT/-PISA). The new functional polymers are designed to promote an efficient hybridization between components with distinct characteristics and/or properties to preserve or improve their intrinsic properties or, even, provide new ones, such as stability, water solubility or response to stimuli (pH, light and/or T). Other polymers develop their own nanostructure providing support to “in situ” generation of inorganic nanostructures and obtain new hybrid nanomaterials with optimized properties.

2- Development of new straightforward protocols enabling a versatile and efficient hybridization between components with distinct characteristics, to obtain new multicomponent nanohybrids.

The new monomers and polymers are used to afford new hybridization strategies, optimizing the experimental conditions based on the applied polymerization procedure, the polymer functional groups (type, number and distribution) and the NPs characteristics (nature, properties, size, geometry, aggregation):

2.1- Synthesis of polymer nanohybrids based on noble metals (Au, Ag): Optimization of their optical and electronic properties by controlling the size, aggregates and polymer coating. Obtain metallic NPs sensitive to pH and/or T through coatings with smart polymers sensitive to stimuli. Development of detection devices based on LSPR and SERS. Study applications on photodynamic therapy, drug delivery and bioimaging.

2.2- Synthesis of photoluminescent polymer nanohybrids (Cu, Au, Ag, ZnO): Synthesis and polymer functionalization of semiconductor nanoclusters and Quantum Dots, hydrophilic and hydrophobic. Study their photoluminescent properties and biomedical applications in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Development of coating and encapsulation techniques in polymer systems to preserve and/or enhance their photoluminescent properties, improve their colloidal stability and reduce their toxicity.

2.3- Synthesis of polymer nanohybrids with magnetic properties: Design and synthesis of magnetic NPs and hybrids (noble metals-magnetic NPs) to be used as contrast, therapeutic, drug and cell delivery agents. Study their magnetic properties and applications as sensors and therapeutic agents.

3- Development of innovative materials based on polymer nanocomposites and study correlations between structure, morphology and molecular and ionic transport.

3.1- Design of new mixed polymer membranes highly selective for gas separation, using common polymers and porous polymer fillers with catalytic activity (i.e., functional polyphenylenes or knitting aryl polymers) or organometallic nanofillers (MOF/ZIF) of interest in very diverse applications, such as gas sequestration and energy conversion.

3.2- Study transport properties of gases to advance knowledge on the physicochemical mechanisms involved. NMR spectroscopy, particularly suited to investigate the gas behavior in experimental conditions close to real ones, and BDS (Broadband Dielectric Spectroscopy) are used to assess the structure and molecular dynamics in the hybrid membranes.


Olga Garcia Ballesteros
Leoncio Garrido Fernandez
Miren Nekane Guarrotxena Arlunduaga
Isabel Quijada Garrido