Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Foulger, Stephen H.

Committee Member

Mefford , Olin T.

Committee Member

Ballato , John M.

Committee Member

Luzinov , Igor A.


To expand the design envelope and supplement the materials library available to biomaterials scientists, the copper(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuCAAC) was explored as a route to design, synthesize and characterize bio-functional small-molecules, nanoparticles, and microfibers. In each engineered system, the use of click chemistry provided facile, bio-orthogonal control for materials synthesis; moreover, the results provided a methodology and more complete, fundamental understanding of the use of click chemistry as a tool for the synergy of biotechnology, polymer and materials science. Fluorophores with well-defined photophysical characteristics (ranging from UV to NIR fluorescence) were used as building blocks for small-molecule, fluorescent biosensors. Fluorophores were paired to exhibit fluorescence resonant energy transfer (FRET) and used to probe the metabolic activity of carbazole 1,9a-dioxygenase (CARDO). The FRET pair exhibited a signicant variation in PL response with exposure to the lysate of Pseudomonas resinovorans CA10, an organism which can degrade variants of both the donor and acceptor fluorophores. Nanoparticle systems were modified via CuCAAC chemistry to carry affinity tags for CARDO and were subsequently utilized for affinity based bioseparation of CARDO from crude cell lysate. The enzymes were baited with an azide-modified carbazolyl-moiety attached to a poly(propargyl acrylate) nanoparticle. Magnetic nanocluster systems were also modified via CuCAAC chemistry to carry fluorescent imaging tags. The iron-oxide nanoclusters were coated with poly(acrylic acid-co-propargyl acrylate) to provide a clickable surface. Ultimately, alternate Cu-free click chemistries were utilized to produce biohybrid microfibers. The biohybrid microfibers were synthesized under benign photopolymerization conditions inside a microchannel, allowing the encapsulation of viable bacteria. By adjusting pre-polymer solutions and laminar flow rates within the microchannel, the morphology, hydration, and thermal properties of the fibers were easily tuned. The methodology produced hydrogel fibers that sustained viable cells as demonstrated by the encapsulation and subsequent proliferation of Bacillus cereus and Escherichia coli communities.



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