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UCL Mechanical Engineering
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Cover story: “Coupling Infusion and Gyration for the Nanoscale Assembly of Functional Polymer Nanofibers…”

Siqi Zhang

Research from UCL Mechanical Engineering’s Biomaterials Processing Lab graces another front cover – the featured article in the July issue of Wiley’s Macromolecular Rapid Communications journal.

“Coupling Infusion and Gyration for the Nanoscale Assembly of Functional Polymer Nanofibers Integrated with Genetically Engineered Proteins” is the first output from a new transatlantic collaboration between Professor Mohan Edirisinghe’sUCL-based lab and Tamerler Lab, led by Dr. Candan Tamerler from Kansas University, USA.

UCL PhD research student Siqi Zhang (pictured) is the journal article’s first author. The process outlined in the paper “offers a simple nanoscale assembly approach to integrate a diverse repertoire of protein functionalities into nanofibers to generate biohybrid materials for imaging, sensing, and biomaterial applications.”

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Abstract

Nanofibers featuring functional nanoassemblies show great promise as enabling constituents for a diverse range of applications in areas such as tissue engineering, sensing, optoelectronics, and nanophotonics due to their controlled organization and architecture. An infusion gyration method is reported that enables the production of nanofibers with inherent biological functions by simply adjusting the flow rate of a polymer solution. Sufficient polymer chain entanglement is obtained at Berry number > 1.6 to make bead-free fibers integrated with gold nanoparticles and proteins, in the diameter range of 117–216 nm. Integration of gold nanoparticles into the nanofiber assembly is followed using a gold-binding peptide tag genetically conjugated to red fluorescence protein (DsRed). Fluorescence microscopy analysis corroborated with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) data confirms the integration of the engineered red fluorescence protein with the nanofibers. The gold nanoparticle decorated nanofibers having red fluorescence protein as an integral part keep their biological functionality including copper-induced fluorescence quenching of the DsRed protein due to its selective Cu+2 binding. Thus, coupling the infusion gyration method in this way offers a simple nanoscale assembly approach to integrate a diverse repertoire of protein functionalities into nanofibers to generate biohybrid materials for imaging, sensing, and biomaterial applications.

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