Miguel Amaro Villegas
Research topic: Synthesis of low molecular weight gelators and the preparation of new supramolecular hydrogels for biomedical applications. Qualifications: 2016-2017 MSc of Research in Chemistry; University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) 2012-2016 BSc in Chemical Sciences; University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) Scholarships: 2018 - Current: University of Kent Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship 2017 - 2018: Erasmus+ traineeship (3 months) in organic synthesis; KU Leuven (Belgium) 2016 - 2017: ‘Initiation of research’ fellowship (6 months); University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain).
Hydrogels are functional materials, used in applications from healthcare to home and personal care products. Most commercial hydrogels are polymeric, displaying polydispersity and irreversible gelation, but hydrogels can also be formed via the self-assembly of low molecular weight hydrogelators. These give reversible gelation, one of the unique feature of these “smart” materials which hold significant promise for tailored applications. A number of carbohydrate/peptide-based hydrogelators have been identified and characterised with respect to their gelation ability and macroscopic properties. Our chemical design incorporates inexpensive, non-toxic, bio-recognisable components, while the physical and morphological properties are determined by the method of gelation. This gives greater control/versatility of gelation and the resulting physical properties under application conditions. Miguel’s research is focused on the synthesis and the design of an optimal purification method for several selected hydrogelators and the corresponding study of their hydrogelation. As well as the study of their individual properties, they will be optimised through combination with different hydrogelators. Using this ‘formulation approach’, a range of multi-component hydrogels will be developed to both improve chemical functionality and modulate physical properties. Application-specific triggers, e.g. pH, will also be developed through chemical functionalisation. Because of the singular properties,supramolecular hydrogels possess, the most suitable applications to pursue are cell culture and drug delivery.
Supervisors: Dr Alison Edwards and Dr Andrew Hall Research Group: Chemistry and Drug Delivery
Poster presentations: Drug-based low molecular weight amphiphiles for the formation of supramolecular hydrogels (RSC macrocyclic and supramolecular chemistry meeting, Canterbury campus, 16th-17th December 2019). Synthesis and optimal purification of sugar-drug amphiphiles and their application as gelators (RSC Organic Division London & SE Regional Meeting 2019, Medway Campus, 13th February 2019)