Over the last decade, the generation of organic porous (nano)materials with tunable pore sizes and desired functionalities has been the subject of increasing attention in materials science. Interest in such porous frameworks originates from the large variety of applications in which they are involved, e.g. size/shape-selective nanoreactors, monoliths for advanced chromatographic techniques, nanofiltration membranes, high specific area catalytic supports, as well as 3-D scaffolds for tissue engineering.
This lecture examines the scope and limitations of three different approaches to porous polymers with controlled porosity and functionality at different length scales. The first approach relies on the synthesis of polystyrene-block-poly(D,L-lactide) diblock copolymers with functional groups at the junction between both blocks, followed by their macroscopic orientation, and the subsequent selective removal of the polyester block to afford ordered nanoporous materials with channels lined with chemically accessible functionalities (e.g., COOH, SO3H, SH, COH) [1-4].
The second strategy entails the preparation of biocompatible doubly porous crosslinked polymer materials through the use two distinct types of porogen templates, namely a macroporogen in combination with a nanoporogen. To generate the macroporosity, either NaCl particles or fused PMMA beads are used, while the second porosity is obtained by using a porogenic solvent . Alternatively, a straightforward and versatile methodology for engineering doubly porous polymers is implemented through a thermally induced phase separation process .
Finally, 3-D macroporous scaffolds based on biodegradable polyesters have been engineered by electrospinning to generate nanofibrous biomaterials that mimic the extracellular matrix [7,8]. The potentialities afforded by these approaches will be addressed, and some typical applications of the resulting porous materials will be illustrated.
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