Seminar Series: Tailoring the Nano-Architecture of Gel Materials for the Motion of Macromolecules: DNA vs. Nanoparticles

Event Date: November 13, 2007
Speaker: Dr. Pedro E. Arce, Professor and Chair
Speaker Affiliation: Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Tennessee Tech University
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: Forney G140

In applications such as the separation of proteins, the controlled drug delivery, and the design of tissue scaffolds, the motion of macromolecules is an important aspect of the successful material performance. Both internal parameters, i.e. the structure and morphology of the material as well as the external operating variables, i.e. the direction and magnitude of the applied electrical field play an important role in controlling the motion of the macromolecules.  The understanding of the fundamental aspects involved in controlling the motion of the macromolecules is crucial for the design of nano-level architectures that tailor a given function of the material. This may include, for example, performing an efficient separation, delivering the correct amount of drugs or feeding the proper level of nutrients, in a given scaffold, for the growth of tissue cells. 

The presentation will describe two approaches that we use in our research group for designing and manufacturing gel materials with a modified architecture at the nano-scale level. We have successfully used DNA molecules as templating agents to modify the gel structure that improve protein separation by electrophoresis methods. We also use charged nanoparticles to manipulate the electrostatics of the material and, in turn, yield a different transport rate of the macromolecules. We will discuss experimental aspects related to the synthesis and characterization of the gel materials as well as modeling efforts to describe the transport of analytes inside the material. Directions for future research efforts will be also included.