Date of Award

Winter 2-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials Science and Engineering


Michael R. Bockstaller


The broader technical objective of this work is to contribute to the development of enzymefunctionalized nanoporous membranes that can function as autonomous and target selective dynamic separators. The scientific objective of the research performed within this thesis is to elucidate the parameters that control the mixing of proteins in organic host materials and in block copolymers templates in particular. A “biomimetic” membrane system that uses enzymes to selectively neutralize targets and trigger a change in permeability of nanopores lined with a pHresponsive polymer has been fabricated and characterized. Mechanical and functional stability, as well as scalability, have been demonstrated for this system. Additional research has focused on the role of polymeric ligands on the solubility characteristics of the model protein, Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA). For this purpose BSA was conjugated with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) ligands of varied degree of polymerization and grafting density. Combined static and dynamic light scattering was used (in conjunction with MALDI-TOF) to determine the second virial coefficient in PBS solutions. At a given mass fraction PEG or average number of grafts, the solubility of BSA-PEG conjugates is found to increase with the degree of polymerization of conjugated PEG. This result informs the synthesis of protein-conjugate systems that are optimized for the fabrication of block copolymer blend materials with maximum protein loading. Blends of BSA-PEG conjugates and block copolymer (BCP) matrices were fabricated to evaluate the dispersion morphology and solubility limits in a model system. Electron microscopy was used to evaluate the changes in lamellar spacing with increased filling fraction of BSA-PEG conjugates.