St Petersburg University and Institute of Organic Chemistry named after N.D. Zelinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences have synthesized a polymer that resembles Swiss cheese under a microscope. The unique structure of the material ensures that the drugs are precisely transported to the tissues and organs.


The research findings, supported by the RSCF’s grant, were published in the ChemSusChem.

Among the overarching priorities in science today is how to develop materials with predetermined properties. We can fabricate the materials which will adapt to the environment (temperature, light, pressure, chemical substances, and others). As a raw material, we can use cost-effective substances. Should we make them renewable, it will be efficient more than ever.

SPbU and Institute of organic Chemistry developed a new method to fabricate polymers from carbide of calcium and carbonhydrates. Carbide of calcium is a cost-effective and high production volume chemical that is produced in large volumes for synthesizing acetylene and in industry. The carbohidrates are renewable and can be widely found in nature, for example, as glucose or fructose

The polymer seemed to dissolve in one solution but solvent-resistant in others.

Director of the Laboratory for Cluster Catalysis at SPbU Valentin Ananikov  

“We can incorporate a necessary substance into the pores that will be released when favourable conditions are created. Otherwise, it is conservated in the pores. Such materials are in great demand and can be used to precisely deliver drugs to the tissues and organs”, — said the Director of the Laboratory for Cluster Catalysis at SPbU and corresponding member of the RAS Valentin Ananikoav.

Interestingly, the polymer has a unique structure: it resembles Swiss cheese with thousands of pore making a hierarchy under a microscope. The microscopic “nano-holes” are evenly spread throughout the polymer, with the hollow spheres inside divided by the thinnest walls that are connected with the canals. The scientists cut the material  down to small size by using a directed beam of ions.