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Biofouling of marine vessels (e.g. ship hulls) and structures (e.g. piers) by sea organisms such as barnacles and algae is a major issue for the marine sector. In the PEM Techology Gateway and IT Sligo, we are pursuing research in bio-inspired polymers for biofouling prevention.
The Nanotechnology and Bioengineering Division is composed of scientists and engineers in inter-disciplinary areas of biomedical, nanotechnology, bio-engineering and food technology. Current research activities include nanaotechnology, materials for sustainable development, polymers, graphene and its composites, food technology, 2 D materials, electrospinning, photocatalysis etc.
Filler particles are often added to polymeric materials to improve their properties, e.g. to enhance the mechanical or barrier properties or to improves the aesthetics of products. An example is the use of Barium Sulphate particles added to medical devices to make the devices radio-opaque and clearly visible under x-ray. Unfortunately, the dispersion of Barium Sulphate (BaS) within the polymer matrix is problematic during compounding of the materials, with the BaS particles tending to clump together into micro-sized agglomerates. This may result in unacceptable mechanical and aesthetic defects in products such as multi-lumen medical tubing, where the wall thickness dimensions might be as low as 50mm or below. Clearly, particulate agglomerates at the same scale is unacceptable. We worked with a medical polymer compounder on developing an on-line monitoring solution which could detect agglomerates above a threshold level in real-time during compounding.