2008 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2008 - 11th Annual

Partnering Events:

TechConnect Summit
Clean Technology 2008

Polymer Biomembranes

W. Meier
University of Basel, CH

block copolymers, membranes, proteins

Similar to conventional lipids also suitable amphiphilic block copolymers may self-assemble in aqueous media to membrane-like superstructures. The physical properties of these membranes can be controlled to a large degree via the chemical constitution, the molecular weight and the hydrophilic-to-hydrophobic block length ratio of these polymers. Compared to conventional low molar mass building blocks (e.g. lipids), membranes based on macromolecular self-assembly, not only have the advantage of superior stability and toughness, but in addition offer numerous possibilities of tailoring physical, chemical and biological properties since many functions can be implemented simultaneously in one single macromolecule. Moreover, other well-defined functions such as recognition, cooperativity, regulation, replication, and catalysis can be introduced by combining these superstructures with suitable functional units from Nature, e.g., by incorporation of integral membrane proteins. It has to be emphasized many integral membrane proteins can be functionally reconstituted in block copolymer membranes despite the considerable dimensional mismatch between the membranes and the proteins (block copolymer membranes are frequently 2-3 times thicker than biological membranes!). This can be explained by the high compressibility of the polymer membranes that reduces the energy penalty for protein insertion. That seems to be a feature being unique for the polymer membranes since lipid bilayers are nearly incompressible due to the low number of possible configurations of their hydrophobic tails within the membrane. Here selected examples of possible applications of the resulting polymer-protein hybrid systems will be discussed.

Nanotech 2008 Conference Program Abstract