Stimuli Responsive Self-Assembled Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Materials

  • Safaa Al-Rehili

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Because of the latest developments in nanotechnology and the need to have new functions, a high demand for innovative materials is created. The technological requirements for new applications cannot be fulfilled by most of the well-developed materials like metals, plastics, or ceramics. Therefore, composite materials that can exhibit better properties in contrast to their single counterpart represents a valuable and interesting alternative for the development of new and more performing functional materials. In the past few years, one of the most rapidly developing fields in materials chemistry is research and development of innovative hybrid materials and nanocomposites having exceptional properties. A significant reason for this is that this group of materials closes the gaps between different scientific fields and brings together the ideal properties of the different disciplines into a single system. Conventional materials like polymers or minerals can be mixed with substances of a different kind, like biological molecules and different chemical functional groups to create unique functional materials with the help of a building block method. Inorganic and organic chemistry, physical and biological sciences are integrated in the search for new recipes in a purely interdisciplinary way to generate unique materials. Compounds that are created frequently have interesting new properties for forthcoming functional materials and technological applications. Natural materials frequently function as a model for these systems and various examples of biomimetic methods can be obtained while generating these hybrid materials. The research and development of these materials is driven by the needs of future technologies. The research carried out in this thesis is entirely based on hybrid organic-inorganic materials; hence, it consists of soft organic/bioorganic section that makes it possible to generate multifunctional materials, whereas the hard inorganic section functions as a rigid and stable platform for developing nanocarriers and imaging agents. A key domain in materials chemistry is the creation of smart materials that have the ability to respond to environmental changes or be triggered on demand. These materials have led to the creation of new technologies, like electroactive materials, electrochromic materials, biohybrid materials, sensors and membranes, etc. The required functionality can be provided by the organic or inorganic components, or from both. In this dissertation, the synthesis, methodology, and creation of three unique organic-inorganic hybrid stimuli responsive systems having targeted features for specific applications are examined. The first example is represented by supramolecular microtoroids created by spontaneous self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules and a hydrophilic polymer (chitosan), in the presence of iron (III) chloride. Light irradiation is the stimulus responsible for assembly/disassembly of this new supramolecular entities. The basis of the photo-response of the microtoroids is the photoreaction of the anthracene derivatives. In order to make these materials bio applicable, the microtoroid size was controlled and narrowed down to nanometers, which has led to our second system called metal organic complexes (MOCs). In this system, chitosan was replaced by PNIPAM polymer at optimized concentrations. The reversible thermo-response of MOCs comes from the phase transition ability of PNIPAM. The third hybrid material is the core-shell system consisting of mesoporous organosilica coated with iron oxide nanoparticles, used for cargo delivery and cell imaging. The magnetic-response of the core-shell system results from the strong magnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles, while the presence of PMOs increased its biocompatibility. Our research on such organic-inorganic hybrid materials represents a promising development in the field of materials chemistry. Due to the possibility of mixing various properties in a single material, a variety of combinations regarding possible materials and applications have emerged.
Date of AwardNov 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorNiveen Khashab (Supervisor)


  • Stimuli Responsive Materials
  • Biomedical Applications
  • Organic-Inorganic Hyrbrid Materials

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