Smart thin film membranes adopt properties of guest molecules

Consider this Craig Ventor piece  about the new treasure trove of bacteria dna/proteins brought in by Craig Venter’s Institute. Science critics are hailing his work as the biggest deal in ocean going genetics since the Beagle voyages of Charles Darwin.

How would this effect desalination research. It would be helpful if someone in the desalination community tasked the Craig Ventor Institute to keep an eye out for proteins that do desalination work.

Great. So you get some desalination proteins. How do you make them into something useful?

Remember Ventor as you read the article below.

Public release date: 28-Mar-2007

Contact: Susan Trulove
STrulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-03/vt-stf031907.php

Smart thin film membranes adopt properties of guest molecules

Blacksburg, Va., March 28, 2007 — Virginia Tech researchers announced last year that they had created a nanostructured membrane that incorporates DNA base pairs in order to impart molecular recognition and binding ability to the synthetic material. This year they will show for the first time that these new films, membranes, and elastomers are compatible with diverse organic and inorganic molecules and will adopt properties of the guest molecules.

The research is being presented as an invited talk at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago March 25-29.

Chemistry professor Tim Long’s research group, students affiliated with the Macromolecule and Interfaces Institute (MII) at Virginia Tech, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory created a block copolymer, where different monomers are linked in a sequential manner and form a nanostructured film. They used adenine and thymine nucleotides, two of the four DNA base pairs that recognize each other. Then the researchers experimented with different kinds of guest molecules with complementary hydrogen bonding sites (hydrogen has a low energy attraction to many types of atoms).

The low energy attraction, means the guest molecules are widely dispersed throughout the membrane, which then takes on the properties of the guest molecules. “For example,” said Long, “if the guest molecules have ionic sites (sites with positive and negative charges), you will be able to transfer water through a film because you would have ion channels at the nanoscale. It’s similar to the way a cell membrane works to control the flow of specific ions into a cell. You can create protective clothing – against chemicals – that would still allow water vapor through.”

Salts, as ordinary table salt, are hydrophilic (water loving) and their introduction into a block copolymer template permits the placement of the salts at the nanometer dimension. One can imagine forming of channels of salts that are not visible with the human eye, but act as a roadway for the transport of water molecules.

“The research is synergy at the nanotechnology-biotechnology interface,” Long said.

###

The talk, “Nucleobase-containing triblock copolymers as templates for the dispersion of guest molecules at the nanoscale” (PMSE 423) will be presented at 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, March 28, in McCormick Place South room S505A. Authors are Brian Mather of Albuquerque, a chemical engineering doctoral student in MII; Margaux B. Baker, an undergraduate student from the University of Michigan who studied with Long’s group during summer 2006; Long, and Frederick L. Beyer of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Mather received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico. Learn more about his research at Virginia Tech by visiting www.chem.vt.edu/chem-dept/tlong/Brian.html.


[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ Print Article | E-mail Article | Close Window ]

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Water Desalination Research and Development

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: