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Incorporating proteins into polyelectrolyte membranes.

Master Student research project

Incorporating proteins into polyelectrolyte membranes.

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 proteins into the membranes. There is a wide variety of proteins available with diverse functions. We have several options for proteins or enzymes that could lead to membranes with practical applications.

Project to-do list:

  • Investigate under which polyelectrolyte composition the best incorporation of the protein happens.
  • Look at the effect of pH on the incorporation of the protein.
  • Adapt the existing protocol for the addition of the protein, including evaluating whether the protein has actually been incorporated into the membrane
  •  Test whether the protein is still active and can perform its typical function on a water feed.

Department: Nanobiophysics (NBP) (Nov 2018)

Daily Supervisor: Jéré van Lente,

Project Leader: dr. Saskia Lindhoud,