MSE PhD Dissertation Defense (Mon April 18, 10:00am, CIS-X 101)

Ben Almquist almquist at
Mon Apr 4 14:52:59 PDT 2011

University PhD Dissertation Defense

"Tunable Bio-Inorganic Interfaces for Intracellular Access"

Benjamin D. Almquist
Department of Materials Science & Engineering

Advisor: Prof. Nicholas A. Melosh

Monday, April 18th, 2011

10:00 am 
(Refreshments at 9:45am)

Location: Paul G. Allen Auditorium (CIS-X 101)

	The ability to specifically and nondestructively incorporate inorganic structures into or through biological membranes is a key step toward realizing full bioinorganic integration. However, molecular delivery and interfaces to inorganic objects generally rely upon destructive formation of membrane holes and serendipitous adhesion, rather than selective penetration and attachment into the bilayer itself. While penetrating nanomaterials have provided an improvement in cell viability, the structure of the lipid membrane-material interface is unknown and poorly controlled. 

         I will discuss how replicating the hydrophobic banding of transmembrane proteins enables the ability to rationally design penetrating bio-inorganic interfaces with tunable properties. These biomimetic ‘stealth’ probes consist of hydrophilic posts with 2-10 nm hydrophobic bands formed by layered metal deposition and molecular self-assembly. AFM measurements show spontaneous insertion into the hydrophobic membrane core, forming well-defined lateral junctions. Furthermore, the structure and strength of the bio-inorganic interface can be controlled by changing the thickness and molecular properties of the self-assembled monolayer. Surprisingly, it was found that monolayer hydrophobicity is a secondary factor in determining interfacial strength, and that other molecular properties dominate the behavior.

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