Stable Liquid Crystalline Polymer Sensors for Biomedical / Consumer Product Applications (Case 1229)

Principal Investigator:


Edith Mathiowitz, PhD, Professor

Department of Bio Med Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology

Brown University

Providence, RI


Brief Description:


Thermoplastic polymers combined with mesogens, rod/disk-like elements typically involved in liquid crystalline polymer formation, have been extensively investigated, because the ordered fluid phases of liquid crystals offer unique properties that are useful, for example, as precursors to high performance polymeric films, fibers, and injection molded articles.  Indeed, phase transitions as a function of temperature and pressure have been studied on various select polymers.  However, conventional transition processes have a major disadvantage, among others, in that they are reversible at ambient conditions, and thus, produce less stable crystals; this fact negates their use in controlled release/retention applications.  Therefore, efforts to use liquid crystalline materials in controlled release systems have been an on-going research interest.  Non-polymeric systems, with a cubic liquid crystalline phase, can provide a highly reproducible controlled drug release system as compared to solutions involving polymers.


The technology is a novel method to induce a polymer to exhibit liquid crystalline properties for use in controlled release applications.  The polymer can be any thermoplastic, cross-linked, mesogenic or non-mesogenic, bioerodible or non-bioerodible, and water soluble or water-insoluble, thereby offering a more flexible, versatile and broadly applicable process.  The liquid crystalline state, or another new state with similar characteristics, produced is significantly more stable and can be maintained for years at ambient conditions even after removing pressure.  Broadly, the steps include heating the polymer under specific conditions and then exposing it to pressure under another set of specific conditions. The liquid crystalline (LC) polymers can be used in controlled release or retention of encapsulated substances, and can also be in a variety of forms, e.g. films, microparticles, and film laminants.  These unique LC polymers can encapsulate therapeutic, diagnostic or prophylactic drugs/agents, as well as other inorganic or biological substances.  Moreover, LC properties in polymers can be used to improve the permeability of polymers to the level of gas/fragrance molecules for use in many applications such as packaging for food, pharmaceuticals and perfume, and can enhance the structural performance of polymeric devices such as polyethylene prosthetics.


Market niche examples are many and include, among others:  pharmaceutical – therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices (drug delivery devices); packaging, prosthetics, perfume; food and beverage; personal consumer products (skin care, cosmetic); agriculture/environment monitoring and maintenance devices; scientific R&D research tools.  Examples of applications are: in the production of therapeutic and/or diagnostic delivery devices, manufacture of packaging for food and pharmaceuticals, prosthetics, perfumes, food and beverage, personal consumer products such as skin care and cosmetics, and environmental/agricultural maintenance/monitoring devices for controlled release of drugs, agents such as scents, flavors, coloring, sunscreen, and pesticides.  Applications also exist in scientific R&D in such fields of study as nanotechnology, material sciences, biomedicine, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, and a plethora of others.




US patent 6,696,075 is issued (02/24/2004)

US patent 6,465,002 is issued (10/15/2002)

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Margaret Shabashevich,
Manager of Operations
Technology Ventures Office
Brown University
Edith Mathiowitz
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