Self-assembly of diblock copolymers composed of a globular protein and a polymer provides a direct route towards nanopatterning proteins and enzymes at high densities while preserving protein activity. By effectively nanopatterning proteins, we have demonstrated that this technique aids in the fabrication of a variety of biocatalytic, bioelectronic, and biosensor devices with greatly enhanced sensitivity and selectivity. In these devices, the densely-packed protein domains serve as a site for efficient enzymatic reaction or analyte capture, while the polymer domains control diffusion into the films as a function of analyte size and chemistry.
Our globular protein-polymer block copolymers are synthesized by covalently attaching a single monodisperse polymer to each protein molecule using site-specific chemistry. We utilize a combination of scattering and microscopy techniques to investigate the resulting self-assembled nanostructures in solution, bulk, and thin film samples. We also develop theories and perform simulations to understand of the dynamics of protein-polymer self-assembly, providing key insights into the phase behavior of these materials.
1. Paloni, J. M., Dong, X. H., & Olsen, B. D. (2019). Protein–Polymer Block Copolymer Thin Films for Highly Sensitive Detection of Small Proteins in Biological Fluids. ACS sensors, 4(11), 2869-2878. Link
2. Huang, A., Paloni, J. M., Wang, A., Obermeyer, A. C., Sureka, H. V., Yao, H., & Olsen, B. D. (2019). Predicting Protein–Polymer Block Copolymer Self-Assembly from Protein Properties. Biomacromolecules, 20(10), 3713-3723. Link