5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik
"The New Chemistry" - Sustainable Catalysis with Alcohols
- Subject of the thesis are new iridium complexes stabilized by anionic P,N- or P,N,P-ligands. These complexes were used in homogeneous catalysis. Furthermore, mechanistic studies were performed to provide an insight into the catalytic cycles. Synthesis protocols for a multitude of different product classes have been developed.
The iridium complex 1, stabilized by a neutral P,N-ligand, reacts under basic conditions with 2-aminopyridines. By elimination of dipyridylamine the new catalyst species 2a was formed, which is more stable than catalyst 1.
Based on this finding eight new anionic P,N-ligands and the resulting iridium complexes were synthesized.
After optimization of the reaction conditions (solvent, base, temperature and catalyst loading) these catalysts were used in BH (borrowing hydrogen)/HA (hydrogen autotransfer) reactions. The selective monoalkylation of anilines with primary alcohols was investigated. In comparative experiments the superiority of the new class of catalysts versus the original catalyst 1 was clearly shown. Under mild reaction conditions (70 °C) the selectivity profile with respect to the monoalkylation has been preserved.
The catalytic protocol was subsequently extended to the alkylation of aromatic diamines. Therefore various diaminobenzenes were used as substrates. Also Dapsone®, an important drug in treatment of leprosy could be used as starting material. We succeeded in both symmetric and unsymmetric monoalkylations of diamines. Due to the selectivity profile of the catalyst regarding aromatic amines, also unprotected amino alcohols could be used as alkylating reagents.
By the use of tridentate P,N,P-ligands, a novel class of more stable catalysts compared to complexes 2a-9a, could be developed. Due to sealing the synthesis reactor with a semipermeable membrane, the retransfer of the “borrowed” hydrogen could be prevented and H2 is released. Dehydrogenation and condensation steps are now possible instead of BH/HA. By reacting secondary alcohols with β-amino alcohols, pyrroles were accessible.
After adapting the synthesis protocol to this new class of products the tolerance of functional groups was tested. Diversely functionalized alcohols were used. Under mild reaction conditions (90 °C) and very low catalyst loadings (down to 0.03 mol% iridium), a large number of novel pyrroles was accessible. Using this protocol 21 differently substituted α,α-pyrroles, 12 bicyclic pyrroles, symmetrically as well as non-symmetrically substituted oligopyrroles and three β-aminopyrroles were synthesized. The catalyst resting state was identified by NMR experiments and X-ray structure analysis to be an iridium trihydride. This trihydride is formed under catalytic conditions, by treatment of the pre-catalyst with alcohols or in hydrogen atmosphere.
In the final part of the work, a catalytic pyridine synthesis was developed. In this so far unknown heterocycle synthesis up to four different substituents could be introduced within a single reaction step. 2,6-, 2,5-, 2,4- and 2,3-substituted pyridines were synthesized selectively by using variously substituted primary or secondary alcohols and γ-amino alcohols. Furthermore, both the synthesis of bicyclic pyridines as well as the synthesis of pyridines that bear chiral substituents is possible.
Budget and fluxes of nitrogen in mountainous agroecosystems in a summer monsoonal climate under intensive land use
- A balanced nitrogen (N) cycle in intensively managed ecosystems is necessary as it underpins other ecosystem services. This study evaluated the agricultural practices in a typical mountainous catchment in South Korea in respect to N dynamics and their potential effect on water quality with the aim to develop options for a more sustainable catchment management.
In the 1st study, we used two approaches to calculate N budgets for the 5 key crops of the basin at the field scale. The gross and net N budgets for all crop types were found to be positive. Based on the small differences between the results of the two approaches we identified fertilizer N as well as soil Nmin as the dominant N input sources. As fertilizer N application was the major N input source (>50%), its reduction is the major scope of action for N savings at the field scale. A closely linked action is the synchronization of fertilizer N with soil Nmin. The large amount of fertilizer that is applied prior to planting (>60%) at the beginning of the monsoon season revealed that split applications could help reducing the fertilizer N additions and increase the low N use efficiencies (NUE). Based on the significant differences between gross and net N surplus for rice and bean fields, we identified the high amount of plant residues remaining after harvesting (>100 kg N ha-1) as a further factor for potential N savings. The 5 main crops accounted for over 80% of the total catchment N surplus (>400 Mg), even though their contribution to the area was only around 20%. A land use shift to perennial crops with lower N inputs was therefore found to be a possible but spatially limited chance to reduce N surpluses at the catchment scale. The comparison of catchment N surplus with stream N export revealed that 73-86% of the agricultural N surpluses were transported to water bodies in the catchment by either leaching or surface runoff.
In the 2nd study, we followed the fate of fertilizer N in a ridge and furrow (R/F) cultivation with polyethylene (PE) mulch by using 15N tracer. N leaching was simulated with Hydrus 2D. The comparison of 4 N fertilization levels (0, 150, 250 and 350 kg N ha-1) revealed that already 150 kg N ha-1 is sufficient to reach the maximal yield of radishes. Based on the low results of fertilizer N use efficiency (FNUE), we recommend two applications during the first 25 days of growth and a further application around day 50. These split applications adjusted to the plants’ needs increase the FNUE of the radish and decrease the fertilizer N losses during the growing season. However, split applications might be impractical in plastic covered R/F cultivations because mechanical equipment to apply fertilizer under the PE mulch is required. Based on the finding that 15N retention in soil and nitrate concentration in seepage water decreased similarly for ridges and furrows during the entire growing season, we conclude that the PE mulch had no significant effect on 15N retention in soil and on nitrate concentration in seepage water and did therefore not effectively protect the fertilizer in the ridges from percolation. Based on the simulation results, we found that the ridges and furrows contributed approximately an equal amount of leached N to the total amount. We therefore conclude that the PE mulch provided little protection for the fertilizer N in the ridges during heavy rainfall. N leaching amounts were further found to increase linearly with an increase in N addition rate as it is well known for R/F cultivations without PE mulch. The PE mulch did therefore not prevent the linear increase in leaching with an increase in fertilizer N addition. We summarize that without the use of additional measures such as split applications of fertilizer, the application of PE mulch in a summer monsoon climate with heavy rainfall events does not positively influence the N leaching rates.
In the 3rd study, we monitored soil water dynamics in the field and used this data set to simulate the influence of PE mulch on water fluxes with Hydrus 2D. We simulated soil water dynamics in 1) conventional flat tillage (CT); 2) R/F cultivation without PE mulched ridges (RT); and 3) R/F cultivation with PE mulched ridges (RTpm). The comparison of the simulated pressure heads during dry and wet periods revealed that the PE mulch induced significant soil moisture patterns only during the dry periods. During monsoon events, the effect of the PE mulch was dependent on the soil texture and the hydraulic conductivity. Summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of the R/F cultivation with PE mulch on sloped fields, the practice was observed to have the lowest amount of drainage water, the lowest evaporation rates but also the highest surface runoff rates. Hence, PE mulching might be assessed as a tool to reduce percolating water, but it concurrently increases water contribution to the river network by surface runoff.
Coarse-grained Modeling of Protein Dynamics using Elastic Network Models
- Dynamics is crucial for the functioning of biological macromolecules. Because of severe limitations in studying protein dynamics experimentally or with all-atom simulations, coarse-grained methods, especially elastic network models (ENMs), are frequently employed. In the last years, studies on various proteins showed that ENMs reliably reproduce experimental data, despite the simplified protein representation and the purely harmonic potential function. This work on two proteins with very different dynamical properties highlights the remarkable success of ENMs and shows which kind of questions can be answered using coarse-grained methods.
The allosteric enzyme aminoglycoside phosphotransferase(3')-IIIa (APH), which confers resistance against a broad range of aminoglycoside antibiotics to pathogenic bacteria, drastically changes its flexibility upon binding of substrates, but without changing its average conformation. In contrast, the homotrimeric vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G (VSV-G), which triggers the pH-dependent fusion of viral and host membrane, undergoes a large structural rearrangement. A striking difference between the two proteins is their shape. VSV-G contains weakly constrained protein segments, the fusion loops, which can undergo large-scale motions at low energetic cost, whereas APH is not obviously arranged into different protein segments. Nevertheless, ENM calculations show that also APH consists of independently moving segments with correlated internal motion, so-called dynamic domains. The concept of dynamic domains can explain the differential effects of ligand binding on the dynamics of APH.
The first chapter of this thesis describes how experimental evidence for the importance of dynamics successively replaced the former idea of static proteins, and explains the dynamic basis of ligand binding, allostery and conformational changes. In the second chapter, theoretical methods for the analysis of protein dynamics are introduced, with emphasis on the ENM-based methods used in my studies. The studies are summarized in the third chapter. In the study on APH, I employ the Gaussian network model to analyze the ligand-dependent dynamics, the broad substrate specificity and the perturbation-sensitivity of the ligand binding sites. In a second study, ENM-based as well as all-atom molecular dynamics simulations are used to analyze the conformational change of VSV-G. Both approaches detect the fusion loops of VSV-G as most flexible parts of the protein, and thus as most likely starting point for the structural rearrangement, but only the all-atom model can generate deviations from the average structure at low pH. The last study describes the implementation and application of a dynamic domain assignment method, called CovarDom, which is based on covariances of residue fluctuations. Calculation of dynamic domains for a large protein set demonstrates the general applicability of CovarDom.
Crystalline-core micelles based on triblock terpolymers with polyethylene middle blocks
- This thesis is focused on the crystallization-induced structure formation of polyethylene containing triblock terpolymers in organic solvents to surface-compartmentalized worm-like crystalline-core micelles (wCCMs). Obtaining profound knowledge of the parameters controlling the self-assembly process allowed the production of a variety of complex one-dimensional micellar architectures with many potential applications, such as adaptive surfactants.
At first, the basic parameters that control the crystallization-induced self-assembly were explored using symmetric polystyrene-block-polyethylene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PS-b-PE-b-PMMA) triblock terpolymers and a PS-b-PE-b-PS triblock copolymer. In good solvents for the PE block, e.g. THF and toluene, the selective formation of wCCMs was observed over a wide range of concentration, applied crystallization temperature and polymer composition. Whereas wCCMs produced by PS-b-PE-b-PS showed a homogeneous PS corona, a patch-like compartmentalization of the corona was observed if the micelles were formed by PS-b-PE-b-PMMA. As THF shows equal solvent quality for both corona blocks, wCCMs with almost alternating PS and PMMA compartments of about 15 nm were observed in this solvent. However, if structure formation was conducted in bad solvents for PE, such as dioxane or dimethylacetamide, spherical micelles with amorphous PE cores were formed already before crystallization. Hence, the subsequent crystallization of PE resulted in spherical CCMs with a patchy or a homogeneous corona depending on the used triblock. These findings allow the highly selective production of stable spherical or worm-like CCMs from the same polymer.
As the corona structure of the patchy micelles self-assembled from triblock terpolymers was mainly deduced from transmission electron microscopy (TEM) performed on dried samples, a small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) study was performed in order to elucidate the morphology in solution. Therefore a partly deuterated triblock terpolymer was synthesized and measured at different contrasts to allow the selective detection of the different corona compartments. The resulting SANS curves could be interpreted using a form factor model for core-shell cylinders with alternating PS and PMMA hemishells including interparticle interactions, thus validating the TEM observations. Notably, Janus-type and patchy cylinders can be clearly distinguished using the applied form factor model.
Moreover, the controlled formation of wCCMs with tunable corona composition and structure was achieved using the cocrystallization of different triblock copolymers. Via random cocrystallization of PS-b-PE-b-PMMA and PS-b-PE-b-PS the corona morphology could be tuned continuously from a mixed corona at low PMMA content over spherical PMMA patches of increasing number and size to alternating PS and PMMA patches. This approach allows to manufacture wCCMs with predefined corona structure omitting the need to synthesize a new tailor-made triblock terpolymer for every desired morphology.
By establishing the controlled crystallization-driven self-assembly of triblock terpolymers with PE middle blocks, it was further possible to prepare wCCMs with predefined average lengths up to 500 nm and length polydispersities as low as Lw/Ln = 1.1. Here, self-assembled spherical CCMs of PS-b-PE-b-PS were used as seeds for the controlled growth of PS-b-PE-b-PS unimers. Upon further addition of PS-b-PE-b-PMMA unimers these grew epitaxially onto the preexisting wCCMs, resulting in triblock co-micelles that consisted of middle blocks with a homogeneous PS corona and outer blocks with alternating PS/PMMA compartments. These structures represent not only the first block co-micelles including blocks with a patchy corona, but also the first ones produced from purely organic block copolymers.
In view of application, the ability of patchy wCCMs formed by PS-b-PE-b-PMMA to stabilize interfaces was investigated using pendant-drop tensiometry. The observed reduction of the interfacial tension at the toluene/water interface was significantly higher than that of comparable triblock terpolymer single chains and that of wCCMs with a homogeneous PS corona. Interestingly, the obtained equilibrium interfacial tension equaled that of Janus cylinders with similar dimensions. To explain this unexpected finding the corona chains were proposed to adapt to the interface via selective collapse and shielding of the incompatible part of the corona chains. Studying wCCMs formed by several triblock terpolymers with different compositions, the interfacial activity was found to increase with increasing overall length of the corona chains, and to a certain extent with the molar fraction of PS units in the corona.
Design of Robust Heterogeneous Catalysts for Sustainable Chemistry
- Robust heterogeneous catalysts based on polymer derived non-oxide ceramics (SiC/SiCN) with integrated late transition metal (Ni, Pd) nanoparticles (NPs) were designed, characterized and tested for their catalytic potential. For the decoration of SiCN support with metal NPs, a molecular approach was applied which makes the use of amido metal complexes for the chemical modification of the preceramic polymer (commercially known as HTT 1800, Clariant Advanced Materials GmbH, Sulzbach, Germany) by the transfer of metal to its nitrogen functions. The modified polymer was transformed to an amorphous SiCN material containing metal NPs by controlled pyrolysis under an inert atmosphere. By following aforementioned approach, Cu@SiCN materials (non-porous) have already been developed in our research group.
In present thesis, attempts were made to fabricate porous SiCN/SiC materials with good accessibility of metal (Ni and Pd) NPs. Firstly, the synthesis of palladium containg SiCN materials by the pyrolysis of palladium modified polysilazane was attempted. It was found that during polymer to ceramic transformation, palladium reacts with silicon to form intermetallic palladium silicide particles. The materials were characterized (TGA, FT-IR, NMR, PXRD and TEM) and applied in catalytic hydrogenation reactions. The activity of the catalysts was found low because of the silicidation of metal and non-porous SiCN support.
The issues of the low porosity of SiCN ceramics and the formation of metal silicides were addressed in the synthesis of Ni@SiCN materials. Controlled pyroylsis of Ni modified polysilazane at 600°C provided microporous Ni@SiCN materials, whereas at 1100°C the formation of nickel silicides in non-porous SiCN matrix was observed. Ni@SiCN materials were characterized by solid state NMR, FT-IR, PXRD, TGA, N2-physisorption and TEM. Hyperpolarized 129Xe NMR was used to study the effect of nickel loading and annealing time on pore structure. The microporous materials showed good thermal stability and activity in selective hydrogenation of aryl acetylenes but as polymer to ceramic conversion was not complete at 600°C, the materials possessed low hydrothermal stability at higher temperatures due to the hydrolysis of Si-N bonds.
In order to replace Si-N bonds with more stable Si-C bonds, a commercial polycarbosilane was used to fabricate SiC materials with integrated Ni NPs by the pyrolysis of nanostructured polycarbosilane-block-polyethylene (PCS-b-PE) polymer. PCS-b-PE was synthesized by the reaction of PCS with PE-OH catalyzed by an amido nickel complex followed by its nanostructuring via microphase separation technique. The length of PE block affected the type of pores generated in SiC material and the synthesis of highly porous materials with micro-, meso- and hierarchical porosity was achieved. Ni@SiC materials were characterized by TGA, PXRD, N2-physisorption and TEM. Hierarchically porous Ni@SiC selectively cleaves aromatic C-O bond of aryl ethers in water and was found a reusable catalyst.
Lastly, controlled pyrolysis of palladium modified polysilzane provided nanoporous SiCN materials with very small and highly accessible Pd NPs. This shows the role of SiCN support whose nitrogen atoms have a stabilizing effect on small metal nanoparticles. Moreover, SiCN support ineracts nicely with the NPs leading to the prevention of their leaching. In general, NPs have agglomeration tendencies with increasing metal loading but in the case of Pd@SiCN, size of metal NPs remained small even with a palladium loading of 14 wt%. Pulse titration with hydrogen showed high accessibility of Pd. Pd@SiCN materials showed better activity than commercial Pd/C catalyst in oxidation of alcohols in the absence of air or oxygen with the evolution of hydrogen.
M@SiCN/SiC materials may find applications in sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from renewable sources, for instance, from lignocellulosic biomass.
Direct Force Measurements on the Colloidal Scale: From Modified Electrodes to Particle Manipulation
- In this thesis the interfacial surface forces and mechanical properties of thin films have been studied by the colloidal probe technique. One central point is the combination of direct force measurements with an electrochemical setup in order to tune interfacial properties of an electrode modified with an organic layer. In particular the adhesion and ion adsorption have been studied, which are ubiquitous phenomena in the colloid science, electrochemistry, and biology. Moreover, a novel technique has been developed to fabricate chemically and mechanically stable colloidal probes for atomic force microscopy (AFM). Additionally, the elastic properties of polyelectrolyte multilayer films were locally resolved under controlled humidity.
The adhesive behaviour of colloidal particles on modified electrodes has been studied by direct force measurements with a micrometre-sized silica probe attached to an AFM-cantilever. By controlling the external potential applied to the modified electrode by means of a potentiostat, separate adhesion contributions at the modification layers in electrolyte solution were quantified. In particular, to determine the influence of the terminating functional groups, gold electrodes modified with self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) terminated in non-ionizable groups were used. It has been demonstrated that electrostatic double-layer forces dominate the adhesion of colloidal particles on hydrophobic and hydrophilic interfaces. In contrast to hydrophilic interface, for hydrophobic one forces due to the solvent exclusion play a significant role and leads to an offset in the adhesive force, which otherwise can be compensated by the external potential. However, the electrocapillarity is of minor importance and can be neglected.
To quantify the ion adsorption at organic interfaces a novel approach was followed, which is based on direct force measurements with silica colloidal probes on SAM-modified electrodes in electrolyte solutions. By variation of applied potential and concentration of specifically adsorbed ions, given by the solution’s pH, the charging behaviour of hydrophilic SAM-OH and hydrophobic SAM-CH3 has been determined. In difference to electrokinetic techniques, direct force measurements allow to probe the full range of the diffuse layer. The analysis of the diffuse layer potential as a function of externally applied potential provides important information. In particular, the shift of the potential of zero charge (pzc) indicates on the specific ion adsorption in the Stern layer as it alters the charging behaviour of the electrode’s interface. It has been demonstrated that hydronium and hydroxide ions adsorb on both the hydrophobic and hydrophilic interfaces. However, the presence of the background electrolyte (KCl) does not shift pzc and thus its ions have no specific affinity towards the interfacial adsorption. The adsorption of hydronium and hydroxide ions is stronger on hydrophobic, than on hydrophilic interface. This is in agreement with theoretical studies. The simple three-capacitor model based on a Langmuir-type adsorption isotherm provides semi-quantitative description of observed dependence of the diffuse double layer potential on applied potential.
A new technique for colloidal probe preparation was developed. A great challenge for the force measurements with the AFM is to ensure the cleanliness, chemical and mechanical stability of the used probes. The approach is based on high-temperature sintering of micrometer-sized silica particles to AFM cantilever with enhanced contact area. Due to a “neck” formed by nanometer-sized particles the increased mechanical stability of colloidal probes was achieved, which has been quantitatively determined by lateral force spectroscopy. The implementation of sintering procedure for silica colloids allowed the development of the highly stable colloidal probes, whose surface properties could be renewed by heating.
Finally, the mechanical properties of polyelectrolyte multilayer films have been determined by nanoindentation as a function of relative humidity. For these series of measurements again a colloidal probe has been used. It has been demonstrated that films containing polyglutamic acid have Young’s modulus, which depends on humidity. The change of stiffness with ambient humidity has reversible character.
Drivers of forest dynamics: Joint effects of climate and competition
- The present dissertation thesis addresses different aspects of forest dynamics and possible changes due to climate change. Various modelling approaches are used to explore joint effects of climate and competition on forest dynamics with a focus on temperate forests. Motivated by scientific interest, this thesis is aimed at contributing to the establishment of fundamental knowledge for proper ecosystem management. Each of the research projects of this thesis explores a facet of forest dynamics. It appears that for projections of forest dynamics under climate change particularly, it is critical to consider competition among trees.
In the first study, the joint effect of climate and competition on forest dynamics in a mountain forest of New Zealand was investigated. The landscape simulation model LandClim was calibrated based on empirical data and applied to reproduce a 1700 years forest succession under stationary climate at the slope of Mt. Hauhungatahi, North Island. Although designed for European temperate forests, LandClim was capable of simulating NZ´s forest dynamics.
Under non-stationary climate, forests likely remain in disequilibrium with climate for some time due to the longevity of trees and competitive prevention of establishment. This aspect was investigated in a mixed beech-oak forest in Germany, using LandClim and the forest gap model SILVA in a cooperation study. Furthermore, a possible ‘climatic turning point’ was investigated, the point at which species dominances change due to changes in competitiveness caused by climate change. Both models projected a potential climatic turning point at a mean annual temperature of 11-12 °C and precipitation sum of 500‑530 mm. However, the change of species composition in existing mixed stands was much slower since the turning point also depended on inherited stand structure. Based on these projections the promotion of oak at dry sites seems advisable due to its superior resistance and resilience to drought.
The applied simulation models consider joint effects of climate and competition but no changes in species sensitivity to competition along climatic gradients. The Spanish National Forest Inventories provided a solid basis to develop a statistical model for the influence of climate and competition on tree growth. The results indicated that in Mediterranean forests the effect of competition increases with aridity potentially resulting in an additional disadvantage for drought sensitive oaks compared to pines under climate change.
Under the prerequisite that forest dynamics will be affected by climate change, different forest management strategies on adaptation are currently discussed. One option is the promotion of tree species that are better adapted to anticipated future climates (such as oak instead of beech in Germany) and also the introduction of non-local ecotypes of local species. This increase in biodiversity intuitively appears promising because it is in line with the insurance hypothesis and the portfolio effect theory. Within this thesis the effect of ecotype mixing as an increase of within stand diversity under consideration of self-thinning was assessed. It was shown that ecotype mixing in forest stands might lower the risk of yield losses and at the same time might exempt the portfolio effect from its drawback of lower chances for high yields.
Climate not only affects demographic rates of tree species but also all other ecosystem components. Disturbances are an important component of forest dynamics because they initiate successions and thereby influence species coexistence. Climate will alter disturbance regimes not only directly but also due to interactions among disturbances, for example an increased risk of insect outbreaks due to weak tree defence caused by severe drought stress. Most disturbance interactions have been observed to be positive, implying that increases of disturbances in quality and quantity due to climate change will be amplified. Furthermore, systems containing positive feedback loops are considered to be mostly unstable, which would result in forest collapse. A theoretical study on disturbance interactions showed why positive feedback loops of disturbances do not necessarily lead to a forest collapse. Disturbance interactions might cause only a minor part of disturbances, whereas direct changes due to climate change are of much higher importance.
The described studies reflect the diversity of the research field forest dynamics and innovative ecological methodology. Nevertheless, the present thesis is not an exhaustive discussion of drivers of forest dynamics under climate change. Forest dynamics and its drivers provide a range of open research questions posing a challenge for fundamental an applied research of high relevance for society.
Dual-Responsive Polymer and Hybrid Systems: Applications for Gene Delivery and Hydrogels
- This thesis focused on the synthesis of functional materials based on water-soluble and responsive polymers, in particular poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA). The dual-responsive behavior and polycationic character at physiological pH of PDMAEMA lead to outstanding properties and thus, to a versatile component for water-based applications. The main concept of the thesis was to combine the ability for gene delivery of PDMAEMA with the magnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles to enable an activity of the gene vector in an applied external magnetic field. Another point was to apply the dual-responsive behavior of PDMAEMA (temperature and pH) for physically cross-linked hydrogels.
Initial studies on magnetic dual-responsive gene vectors revealed a facile synthesis of PDMAEMA-grafted iron oxide nanoparticles utilizing dopamine as physically binding anchor group for the polymer chains. Here, a dopamine-based ATRP initiator was applied for the surface modification of the nanoparticles, which enabled a controlled polymerization technique via the “grafting-from” approach. Gene transfection experiments with CHO-K1 cells show that the transfection efficiency is significantly higher than for poly(ethyleneimine) (PEI), which is regarded as the “gold standard” among the polycationic gene vectors. Although the hybrid particles show a considerably high molecular weight (4.3 MDa), which should lead to a significant increase of the cytotoxicity as observed for linear PDMAEMA their cytotoxicity is remarkably low, lower than that of PEI. Thus, the excellent performance in gene delivery experiments can be attributed to the star-like architecture of the PDMAEMA. Moreover, the uptake of our superparamagnetic gene vector into the cells enables a magnetic cell separation by applying an external magnetic field.
However, due to the non-covalent bonds of dopamine to the iron oxide nanoparticles, the PDMAEMA chains undergo a detachment with time from the nanoparticle surface. This led to the synthesis of PDMAEMA-based magnetic core-shell-corona nanoparticles. Here, the iron oxide nanoparticles were covered with a thin silica shell in order to link the PDMAEMA chains covalently to the inorganic core via silane chemistry. This approach revealed stable dual-responsive hybrid nanoparticles with irreversible binding of the polymer chains and a high long-term stability in aqueous media. These hybrid star-like particles also show excellent gene delivery. The inter-polyelectrolyte complex formation between the PDMAEMA corona of the core-shell-corona particles and pDNA showed that the pDNA molecules are individually complexed with single nanoparticles at N/P ratios (polymer nitrogen / pDNA phosphorous) where the best transfection results are obtained. The magnetic cell separation was further improved by using a Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting system (MACSTM). The magnetically separated cells maintain a high transfection efficiency as well as viability and could even be further cultivated.
Another aspect of this thesis was to include PDMAEMA as stimuli-responsive block in a double switchable block copolymer-based hydrogel. For this purpose, we chose a physically cross-linked ABCBA pentablock terpolymer system, which was polymerized via sequential ATRP and consist of a water-soluble PEO middle block, two dual-responsive (temperature/pH) PDMAEMA B-blocks as well as two thermo-responsive poly(di(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate) (PDEGMA) A-blocks (PDEGMA-b-PDMAEMA-b-PEO-b-PDMAEMA-b-PDEGMA). The aggregation behavior in dilute solution was investigated via temperature-dependent Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) revealing that both stimuli-responsive blocks can be triggered separately and the coil-to-globule transition temperatures of the stimuli-responsive blocks were found to be strongly dependent on the block lengths for low molecular weights. In concentrated solutions, however, rheology studies did not show a further change in the mechanical properties after gelation for the investigated ABCBA pentablock terpolymer compositions. As a result, the principle of our complex system points towards a successful synthesis of a dual-responsive ABCBA pentablock terpolymer hydrogel system, which may show two distinct phase transition even for the gel state, if longer block lengths of the outer A- and B-blocks would be applied.
Dynamic Self-Assembly of Magnetic Colloidal Particles
Dynamic self-assembly represent one of the most powerful tools in Nature to spontaneously organize a system on a hierarchy of different scales.
Most of the processes at the nano/micro scale occur at very low Reynold’s number where inertia can be neglected. Creeping flow magnetic systems can be characterized by the Mason number.
The Mason number measures the ratio between the viscous and the magnetic torque and is the main parameter governing the behavior of paramagnetic colloids investigated in this thesis.
The work presented in this thesis explores new dynamic regimes of colloidal dynamics which occur when suddenly switching to high Mason numbers.
In a static magnetic field the equilibrium structure of paramagnetic colloids are chains. At high Mason number in a rotating magnetic field the time averaged equilibrium conformation is a two dimensional cluster.
By switching from a static to a rotating magnetic external field, we cause a transient dynamics from a static to the dynamic equilibrium state.
The first question addressed in this thesis is: what is the physics that determines the transient folding pathway from one to the other equilibrium state?
Dynamic magnetic fields were used by others to propel top down DNA-linked chains of paramagnetic colloids in a liquid.
The second question asked is whether we can dynamically self-assemble swimmers taking a fully bottom up approach?
The third question is: is it possible to assemble more complex dynamic patterns that lead to motion of the swimmers governed by more collective coupled hydrodynamics that goes beyond slender body theory of the linked chains?
This thesis answers the three questions and contributes to the understanding of colloidal dynamics and self-assembly in dynamic magnetic fields in the regime of high Mason numbers.
We explore two aspects of the dynamic self-assembly i.e. the transient kinetics between two dynamic self-assembled equilibria and the dynamically self-assembled propulsion of magnetic swimmers beyond slender body hydrodynamics.
The thesis therefore aims at achieving magnetic control over the assembly of complex dynamic colloidal structures.
Effect of Dopants on the Local Atomic Structure and Sintering Behavior of Bismuth Sodium Titanate
- The most commonly used piezoceramic is lead zirconate titanate Pb(ZrxTi(1-x))O (PZT). It possesses outstanding piezoelectric properties which can be modified for numerous applications by the addition of dopants. However, because of environmental and health concerns regarding lead, lead-free alternatives are demanded by politics.
One of the two most promising lead-free replacement materials is the ferroelectric bismuth sodium titanate (Bi0.5Na0.5)TiO3 (BNT). Like PZT, it crystallizes in the perovskite structure.
Since the dielectric and piezoelectric properties of pure BNT ceramics are insufficient for application, BNT is often modified by the addition of dopants. These influence a great variety of material properties to different degrees, e.g. the sintering behavior, the dielectric and piezoelectric properties and their respective temperature stabilities. Doping of BNT aims to decrease the sintering temperature in order to avoid Bi vaporization, to increase the depolarization temperature and to enhance the piezoelectric coefficient.
The effects of numerous dopants on the resulting performance of BNT were studied extensively in the literature. However, so far little attention has been payed to the way in which dopants interact with the piezomaterial. Nevertheless, it is the understanding of these relationships that would make targeted modifications and improvements of BNT possible.
The primary goal of this study was to investigate and explain the effects of a model dopant -cobalt- on the phase formation, sintering behavior and microstructure of BNT as well as on the resulting dielectric and piezoelectric properties. In this regard, a core issue was to determine the preferred lattice site of Co in BNT.
BNT was synthesized from oxide powders using the classic solid-state route and sintered at temperatures ranging from 1000 °C to 1150 °C. Cobalt was added in concentrations between 0.1 mol% and 2.6 mol% Co prior to the calcination as Co3O4.
About one third of the total cobalt amount was incorporated into the BNT lattice on the perovskite B-site, that is, it substituted for Ti. The cobalt in BNT appeared to be in equilibrium with the secondary phase Co2TiO4, which invariably formed at cobalt concentrations greater than 0.1 mol% Co. For charge balancing reasons, oxygen vacancies were created in the lattice of cobalt-doped BNT. These markedly enhanced the diffusivity. As a result, the sintering temperature of doped BNT decreased with increasing cobalt concentrations, and high final densities were achieved. However, in highly doped BNT sample swelling occurred at elevated temperatures of the sintering cycle. This phenomenon was attributed to evaporating oxygen caused by the valence transition of Co3+ to Co2+.
Up to 950 °C, BNT was found to densify via solid state sintering mechanisms. Above this temperature, a small amount of liquid phase was present, which probably formed from decomposing BNT because of a slight Ti-deficiency due to doping. Increased Bi vaporization from the melt above 1000 °C appeared to have stabilized sodium cobalt titanate, an additional secondary phase.
The rotation of the iso-lines in the kinetic field diagram of doped BNT was interpreted such that the activation energy for grain growth was higher than the activation energy for densification. Possible reasons are the solute-drag effect and the pinning of domain walls by secondary phase particles.
Both the depolarization temperature and the piezoelectric coefficient d33 decreased with increasing cobalt concentrations. The dielectric properties deteriorated as well. This was attributed to the high electrical conductivity of the doped samples, which prevented full poling.