Chemical Engineering Seminar
The scientific community has been striving for decades to generate biomimetic materials to access many of the beneficial properties seen in Nature. However, there has been limited success in obtaining structural control, catalytic activity, molecular transport, and modulated responsiveness to small perturbation. It remains challenging to decipher critical design rules to realize protein-like behavior in synthetic polymers. I will present our efforts to narrow this gap by developing protein-like random heteropolymers. Specifically, I will discuss three areas including insights gained in protein-polymer interactions using model peptide-polymer conjugates, protein stabilization in non-native environments and how to harvest statistically controlled randomness to design polymers as synthetic membrane proteins. These fundamental studies led to a rich library of functional materials for bioremediation, water treatment, disposable electronic, rapid ion transport and robust catalysis with many waiting to be explored.