Cite this asHernandez-Martinez AR (2022) Smart polymers: Challenges and future. Arch Pulmonol Respir Care 8(1): 010-011. DOI: 10.17352/aprc.000076
Copyright License© 2022 Hernandez-Martinez AR. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Smart Polymers (SP) or stimulus-responsive polymers are “polymers that respond or that is designed to respond to a stimulus like pH, light, heat, etc. change, and provides a predetermined action”. These changes are generally abrupt and relatively large, involving changes in phase or properties due to structural adaptations of the polymer [1-4]. Smart polymers that present a response to changes in pH and/or temperature are among the most studied since they present molecular/structural changes with small changes in pH or temperature. These structural changes are reversible and are reflected in a macroscopic change in the properties of the material, such as shape (shrinkage or bending), wettability, solubility, optical properties, conductivity, adhesion, etc. Therefore, various reports have discussed the use of these PIs in information storage applications, flexible robots, artificial muscles, catalysis, chromatography, tissue engineering, DNA separation, drug delivery, sensors, and biosensors [5-9].
Thermo-responsive polymers consist of functional groups, both hydrophilic and hydrophobic, and undergo abrupt changes in their electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions in an aqueous medium at a critical solution temperature. The most common behavior of these materials is to act as hydrophilic materials below a specific lower critical solution temperature (LCST), forming homogeneous polymer/solvent solutions. But above the LCST, they behave as hydrophobic materials forming heterogeneous polymer/solvent solutions; therefore, thermo-sensitive PIs are appropriate for the development of sensors sensitive to temperature variations [10-12]. On the other hand, pH-responsive polymers consist of functional groups such as weak ionizable acids (carboxylic acid, phosphoric acid) or basic publications  (amines groups, morpholino, pyrrolidine, pyridine, or imidazole groups). Therefore, they can accept or release protons in response to small changes in environmental pH, which produces macroscopic changes in the solubility and swelling properties of polymers. PH-responsive PIs have been shown to be useful for the development of blood glucose biosensors, by detecting variations in pH due to the presence of glucose [12-14].
Smart polymers (SP) are particularly useful for the design of biosensors due to their intrinsic response to different stimuli, especially those that occur under physiological conditions, which was first raised in the 1990s by Liu  and Hoffman , among others. However, even though the polymeric chains of SPs allow the incorporation of biological material or biomimetics such as receptors and recognition probes, as well as integration with other materials for their incorporation into bio-sensing devices, they have been a relatively unexplored application. The application of SPs.
Biosensor development has advanced slowly, mainly due to their own “great success” in controlled drug release, tissue engineering, and DNA separation applications.
Additionally, there is a limited variety of monomers (precursor molecules) for the synthesis of SP, which represents an interesting challenge to solve. Therefore, one of the challenges within the SP area is the design and synthesis of new intelligent polymers through (i) the synthesis of new monomers, (ii) copolymerization between known SP monomers and (iii) copolymerization between monomers that do not have SP properties but that can provide hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups in an adequate way to provide the physicochemical balance that allows the stimulus-responsive property.
The design and synthesis of SP is still a fertile area with great challenges, from computer-aided design, through synthesis, and even its use in the development of novel technological devices such as biosensors.
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