Student research project
Membranes are very thin layers of materials that work as selective barriers; allowing some types of
molecules to pass while retaining others. The most common membranes are made from polymers and the most common application is drinking water filtration. Recently, the Membrane Science &
Technology group at the University of Twente has discovered a new method to make polymer
membranes from polyelectrolyte complexation. However, polyelectrolyte complexes have another
interesting properties; they are able to incorporate biomolecules such as proteins into the complex.
Here at the Nanobiophysics department at the University of Twente we would like to combine these
two polyelectrolyte complex properties and create membranes via polyelectrolyte complexation that
also contains proteins. We hope that the proteins remain active and are able to perform some of their biological function. In this way, we will attempt to create membranes that can not only be filters but also have an active biomolecule in them that can perform some function on molecules inside the filtered water. The basic protocol to make the new membranes is already available, the (best) way to incorporate proteins into it is not yet known.
We are currently looking at incorporating the protein trypsin into the membranes. Trypsin is found in
the small intestines and breaks down other proteins. The goal is to make a membrane that has the
ability to digest proteins from water that passes through the membrane.
Project to-do list:
- Investigate under which polyelectrolyte composition the best incorporation of trypsin happens.
- Look at the effect of pH on the incorporation of trypsin.
- Adapt the existing protocol for the addition of trypsin. Including evaluating whether the trypsin has actually been incorporated into the membrane
- Test whether the trypsin is still active and can break down proteins.
Department: Nanobiophysics (NBP)