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  • Injectable hydrogels hold promise as cell delivery carriers for cell transplantation therapy in regenerative medicine. Injectable hydrogels possess various benefits, including biocompatibility, biodegradability, tissue adhesive properties, scaffold functions, and minimal invasiveness. To overcome the barriers in clinical translation, biological and physicochemical functionalization, which can improve delivery efficacy to the target and graft survival posttransplantation, is desirable. This review discusses the strategies to design injectable hydrogels for cell delivery and summarizes the approaches available to improve the biological and physicochemical features of hydrogels.

    • Akihiro Nishiguchi
    Focus Review
  • Optical resonators have attracted renewed attention in chemistry and biology as minute and highly sensitive sensors that work in the environment and inside biological tissues and cells without any connected wires. Optical resonators should be functional for facilitating molecular interactions and biological compatibility, which is, however, challenging with conventional materials and processing techniques. In contrast, the authors have been tackling this issue by using supramolecular chemistry. This article reviews our recent progress on the methodologies for making organic optical resonators and their emergent optical properties.

    • Hiroshi Yamagishi
    Focus Review
  • Soft interfaces formed by polymer materials are important interfaces for biological systems (biointerfaces). Controlled radical polymerization (CRP) is highly suited for designing biointerfaces composed of polymer chains because it enables precise control of the polymer architecture at the nanoscale. This focus review describes the design of functional soft interfaces based on investigations of the structure-property relationships of CRPs. In particular, polymer brush surfaces showing autonomous property changes, comb-type copolymer-driven 2D/3D transformations of lipid bilayers, and molecular interactions in bactericidal cationic polymer brushes are depicted.

    • Tsukuru Masuda
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • In this short review, we focus on the development of CO2 separation materials consisting of hydrogel particles. The review starts with development of stimuli responsive micro- and nano-gel particles that reversibly absorb CO2 isn response. The next chapter focuses on the development of temperature-responsive hydrogel films consisting of gel particles that reversibly absorb CO2 and the importance of optimizing the pKa values of the amines in the particles. In the end, assembly of defect-free nano-meter-thick CO2 separation membranes consisting of the amine containing hydrogel particles are introduced.

    • Yu Hoshino
    • Shoma Aki
    Focus Review
  • Photochemically adaptable polymer materials are widely used in the fields of medicine, electronics, and engineering due to their precise and remote processability. Diverse designs of light-responsive units have been developed to fabricate various photocontrollable materials with low-energy, rapid, and reversible photoreactivity. Recently, multiple stimuli-responsive materials have been demonstrated to further control their photoreactivity by combining light with another stimulus, leading to advanced photocontrollable capabilities. This Focus Review summarizes the recent progress in developing photochemically adaptable polymer network materials by designing photoresponsive units, focusing on the chemical structures of cleavable moieties.

    • Hiroshi Masai
    • Tomoki Nakagawa
    • Jun Terao
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • Our recent studies on the synthesis, characterization, degradation and applications of vinyl polyperoxides are reviewed. Primarily, the recent achievements in the design, biocompatibility, thermal and enzymatic degradation of water-soluble vinyl polyperoxides and copolyperoxides are described. Finally, future development possibilities and challenges of vinyl polyperoxides for various potential applications are summarised.

    • Pousali Samanta
    • Sourav Mete
    • Priyadarsi De
    Focus Review
  • A new concept for controlling the energy level of conjugated materials without extending the π-conjugated system is described. By performing aza-substitution at the “isolated frontier molecular orbitals (FMOs)”, which are defined in this manuscript, one energy level of FMOs can be selectively and efficiently lowered. Based on this protocol, advanced conjugated polymers with pure-blue or near-infrared luminescent properties were obtained.

    • Kazuo Tanaka
    Focus Review
  • For uniform and flat materials, heavier plates show higher sound insulation performance because of the mass law. Acoustic metamaterials with periodic resonance structures have attracted attention as ultra-lightweight sound insulators that can break the mass law limit. Recently, practical acoustic metamaterial sheets that allow high-throughput fabrication and single-step implementation on target objects have been developed based on polymer materials. In this Focus Review, the polymer-based material design, the control of acoustic functions based on polymer properties, and applications as sound insulators and vibration dampers are described.

    • Masanari Nakayama
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • Peptides are versatile molecular tools with molecular recognition capabilities, high designability, and the capacity for self-assembly. In this focus review, the construction of new bio-nanoarchitectures using our peptide-based technologies is described. First, the construction of functional microtubules was achieved by molecular encapsulation using a Tau-derived peptide. Second, light-induced peptide nanofiber growth was used for the development of artificial motile systems of micrometer-sized spheres. The development of bio-nanoarchitectures by these peptide-based approaches is useful for understanding, mimicking, and controlling natural nano/microstructures.

    • Hiroshi Inaba
    Focus Review
  • In the first part of the review, continuous and length-controllable discrete one-dimensional channels, two-dimensional sheets, and three-dimensional vesicles, bulk-state complexation based on the versatile functionalization of pillar[n]arenes are discussed. In the second part of the review, functionalized pillar[n]arene crystals showing guest-responsive changes in color, state, and water contact angle, as well as serving as reaction media for the spontaneous polymerization of cyclic monomers are discussed.

    • Tomoki Ogoshi
    Focus Review
  • Our recent studies on high-performance semiconducting polymers are reviewed. In the first part of this article, the correlations between semiconducting polymer structures and charge transport properties in thin film transistors are described. The second part of this report summarizes our recent results on the near-infrared emission properties of carefully designed semiconducting polymers.

    • Tsuyoshi Michinobu
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • In this Focus Review, we summarize our new strategy to create electroresponsive soft materials using electroresponsive dopants. Dopants can change the property of the LC material only with a minute amount and do not need to have an LC property by itself, allowing a simple molecular design. Based on this new concept, we developed cholesteric displays with rewritable color memory functions and quick color modulation functions. We also utilized this concept to create new columnar LC systems and realized multiresponsive columnar LC materials.

    • Yoshimitsu Itoh
    • Daiki Morishita
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • This focus review described recent research on cinnamate-based polymers. Polyesters derived from hydroxycinnamic acid showed characteristic ultraviolet response behavior. The mechanism of photodeformability and found that polyesters derived from 3-hydroxycinnamic acid are deformed by photoexpansion. By using dimers of bioproduced cinnamates, polyimides and polyamides were synthesized. The biobased polyimides and polyamides were found to exhibit high transparency, mechanical strength, and good chemical modification properties due to the cyclobutane main chain and carboxylic acid side chains, which are not present in other high-performance polymers.

    • Kenji Takada
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • We have developed innovative new phosgenation reactions and their special reaction systems with the key objective of “safe application” to organic synthesis. This focus review summarizes our recent studies on in situ photo-on-demand phosgenation reactions of alcohols and amines for synthesizing polycarbonates, polyurethanes, and their precursors such as chloroformates, carbonate esters, and diisocyanates, in batch reaction systems, which are preferable for laboratory or small-scale industrial syntheses.

    • Akihiko Tsuda
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based nanomechanical characterization techniques have been extensively used to investigate the mechanical properties and mechanisms of polymeric materials. This technique enables direct visualization of the micromechanical properties of material surfaces and is referred to as the AFM nanomechanics technique. This review article discusses the application of this technique to studying polymer composites with a specific focus on the significant advances made in tracking the microscopic deformation behavior and visualizing the microscopic stress distribution of materials.

    • Xiaobin Liang
    Focus ReviewOpen Access
  • The recent studies on the development of polymeric core crosslinked particles for drug delivery system are reviewed. The first part of this article describes synthesis of polymeric core crosslinked particles via the formation of nanoemulsion, characterization of the particle structure using small angle scattering techniques, and effect of polymer chain conformation on the particle pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. The second part introduces zwitterionic amino acid polymer (ZAP)-based core crosslinked particles and discusses some advantages of using ZAPs as a pilot macromolecule for cancer-targeting chemotherapy.

    • Shota Fujii
    Focus Review
  • While the physical properties of polymer solution have been extensively investigated, less is explored at the vicinity of vitrification due to the experimental difficulty. In this study, we analyzed polymerization-induced vitrification during bulk polymerization of methyl methacrylate. Dielectric spectroscopy captured vitrification caused by the change of polymer concentration at a constant temperature. Our study shows that the polymerization solution becomes heterogeneous at the vicinity of vitrification. In addition, this heterogenization coincides with the reaction acceleration classically known as the Trommsdorff effect.

    • Yasuhito Suzuki
    Focus Review
  • Two specific concepts have emerged in the field of materials science over the last several decades: nanosheets and supramolecular polymers. Based on this background, supramolecular nanosheets, in which these two concepts are integrated, have recently attracted particular attention. This review focuses on design of two supramolecular nanosheets. One is tubulin protein-based supramolecular nanosheet for applications to GTP-responsive drug delivery system. The other is phospholipid-based supramolecular nanosheets and their applications in blood-administrated drug delivery systems.

    • Noriyuki Uchida
    Focus Review
  • In this review, the advantages associated with the molecular design of peptides as multifunctional templates for mineralization are initially described. Subsequently, the mechanisms of CaCO3 nucleation and selective crystal growth achieved under biomimetic mineralization conditions using the designed peptide templates are discussed. Finally, the functional design of peptide–inorganic hybrid materials based on structural control and the use of a mineralization method that can be applied in the engineering and medical fields is considered from the viewpoint of the molecular properties of the peptides.

    • Kazuki Murai
    Focus Review