ESR Experiences -Johan Stanley
By Johan Stanley, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Maribor: January 2023
One of my secondments was scheduled at the University of Maribor (UM) in January 2023. Prior to my secondments, I have already completed one year of my PhD in Aristotle university of Thessaloniki (AUTH) at my host institution under the supervision of Prof. Dimitris Bikiaris. At AUTH, I have performed a number of Polyethylene furanoate (PEF) polyester syntheses via a melt polycondensation technique to obtain a high molecular weight polymer which can be used for food packaging applications. Moreover, I have incorporated active agents into the polymer through in-situ polymerization techniques to improve the antimicrobial properties of PEF polymer. The PEF samples will now be characterized during my secondment at the University of Maribor.
Figure 1. Pictures of Maribor city.
Maribor is a second largest city in the country of Slovenia with a population of 113,778. The city is charming and has a rich history and culture. It is located along the Drava River and surrounded by the forest of Pohorje and numerous vinyards. The University of Maribor was established in 1975 and currently has 17 faculties. It is an internationally best ranked university in the country and among the top 600 universities worldwide. I had an opportunity to work at Laboratory for Characterization and Processing of Polymers (LCPP), located within the Institute of Engineering Materials and Design at Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (UM), under my co-supervisor Prof. Dr. Lidija Fras Zemljič (Head of LCPP). Prof. Dr. Lidija and all her lab members have been so friendly and supportive throughout my secondments in Maribor.
Picture 2. (a) During Contact angle Measurements (b) Performing extrusion to obtain films (c) Lunch with Prof. Lidija and ESR Athira John.
During my secondment in Maribor, I was able to perform various characterizations for my PEF samples, which is targeted as an alternative to synthetic polymers in food packaging applications. The wettability of the PEF films was studied by water contact angle measurements. The surface properties of neat PEF and PEF with active agents is analyzed by Zeta potential measurements. Time-of-flight secondary Ion mass spectroscopy (ToF-SIMS) is performed to analyze the composition of PEF samples with active agents by sputtering the surface of PEF films by focused primary ion beam and analyzing the ejected secondary ions of the samples.
Antimicrobial testing performed in the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food, Maribor, showed improved antimicrobial properties for PEF with active agents in comparison to the neat PEF samples. In addition, I had the opportunity to collaborate and work with one of our ESRs, Athira John, to extrude PLA films with different organic filler compositions for packaging applications.
I had a great experience and valuable learning during my secondments in Maribor. I would like to express my gratitude for the members of LCPP for their fond greetings.