Biomimetic Materials Processing: Implementation of Molecular Imprinting and Study of Biomineralization Through the Development of an Agarose Gel Assay
Committee ChairZelinski, Brian
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBiomimetics is defined as an approach in which naturally occurring materials processes are mimicked in laboratory situations. The ultimate goal is to develop synthetic analogues of naturally occurring materials such as bone and teeth, classified as biocomposites, which possess similar chemical and mechanical properties. The work presented here provides the initial work in furthering the progress of biomimetic materials processing.The first element of the work utilizes molecular imprinting as a selective recognition, or sensing tool, for detection of low molecular weight organic molecules. Molecular imprinting is a phenomenon in which crosslinked synthetic polymers exhibit selective binding towards small organic molecules. Initial work in the field was done in which numerous processing steps were involved with bulk polymer samples while the achievement here lies in the development of molecular imprinted polymer films which greatly facilitate the processing and characterization. Molecularly imprinted polymers are sometimes referred to as artificial antibodies due to the selective binding aspects that are highly analogous to natural antibodies.Additional work involves transforming the recognition aspects of molecular imprinting into a biomineralization analogue. Biomineralization is the process in which organisms convert freely soluble minerals (namely calcium carbonates and calcium phosphates) into solid parts, such as bones and teeth, at ambient conditions via the influence of organic molecules such as proteins and carbohydrates. The molecular imprinting approach with biomineralization led to limited success but formed the foundation for a more detailed study into the effects of small organic functional groups (COOH-, OH-) on the growth of calcium carbonates and calcium phosphates, the core components of important biocomposites such as bone.In order to study the effects of organic molecules on the calcium based crystals, a mineralization assay was developed in an agarose gel matrix for studying inhibition and growth as influenced by various organic molecule functionalities. The gel mineralization assay is a novel approach in which quantitative and qualitative data could be generated in a high throughput fashion to determine organic molecule mediation of calcium based crystal growth. Such methods provide an approach for eventually providing control in development of synthetic biocomposites with customized materials properties.
Degree ProgramMaterials Science & Engineering