Interfacial Interactions between Biomolecules and Materials



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This research investigates the interfacial interactions between biological entities and synthetic materials at two length scales: bulk and nanometer size. At the bulk scale, biomolecule adhesion is key for synthetic material incorporation in the body. Quantifying the adhesion strength becomes necessary. For the nanometer scale, the nanoparticles are generally delivered through the blood stream and their effect on the blood flow must be studied.

An experimental approach was taken to study interaction at both material length scales. The cell/protein adhesion strength to bulk-sized materials was studied. The goal was to identify the most influential factor affecting adhesion: chemistry or surface roughness. The effects of nanoparticles on the viscosity of protein and amino acid solutions were measured. A statistical thermodynamic analysis was focused on the entropy change induced by the addition of gold nanoparticles to protein/amino acid solutions.

Rheological studies were applied. A rheometer with a parallel plate was used to quantify the adhesion strength of cells and proteins to synthetic surfaces at the bulk scale. The adhesion strength depends on the applied shear stress and the radius of cells or proteins that remained attached to the surface after testing. At the nanometer scale, the viscosity of the nanoparticle enhanced protein or amino acid solutions were measured with a cone and plate.

The adhesion studies were conducted with the following biological entities: fibroblasts, egg-white protein, and neurons. The fibroblast adhesion to poly(carbonate) and poly(methyl methacrylate) demonstrate fibroblasts are strongly attached to highly polar materials. Protein adhesion to titanium and chromium nitride coatings showed that chemical composition is the most influential factor. The neuron adhesion to poly-D-lysine coated glass demonstrated that neuron strengthening was due to an increase in adhesion molecules at the neuron/material interface. For nanoparticulates, it was found that the charged nanoparticles affect the protein and amino acid conformation and the potential energy of the solutions.

Quantifying biomolecule adhesion to surfaces and predicting the behavior of nanoparticles inside a biological system are crucial for material selection and application. The major impact of this research lies in observing the interaction mechanisms at the interfaces of material-biological entities.