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Self-assembly at ionic liquid-based interfaces: fundamentals and applications

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Liquid-liquid interfaces serve as ideal 2-D templates on which solid particles can self-assemble into various structures. These self-assembly processes are important in fabrication of micron-sized devices and emulsion formulation. At oil/water interfaces, these structures can range from close-packed aggregates to

Liquid-liquid interfaces serve as ideal 2-D templates on which solid particles can self-assemble into various structures. These self-assembly processes are important in fabrication of micron-sized devices and emulsion formulation. At oil/water interfaces, these structures can range from close-packed aggregates to ordered lattices. By incorporating an ionic liquid (IL) at the interface, new self-assembly phenomena emerge. ILs are ionic compounds that are liquid at room temperature (essentially molten salts at ambient conditions) that have remarkable properties such as negligible volatility and high chemical stability and can be optimized for nearly any application. The nature of IL-fluid interfaces has not yet been studied in depth. Consequently, the corresponding self-assembly phenomena have not yet been explored. We demonstrate how the unique molecular nature of ILs allows for new self-assembly phenomena to take place at their interfaces. These phenomena include droplet bridging (the self-assembly of both particles and emulsion droplets), spontaneous particle transport through the liquid-liquid interface, and various gelation behaviors. In droplet bridging, self-assembled monolayers of particles effectively "glue" emulsion droplets to one another, allowing the droplets to self-assembly into large networks. With particle transport, it is experimentally demonstrated the ILs overcome the strong adhesive nature of the liquid-liquid interface and extract solid particles from the bulk phase without the aid of external forces. These phenomena are quantified and corresponding mechanisms are proposed. The experimental investigations are supported by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, which allow for a molecular view of the self-assembly process. In particular, we show that particle self-assembly depends primarily on the surface chemistry of the particles and the non-IL fluid at the interface. Free energy calculations show that the attractive forces between nanoparticles and the liquid-liquid interface are unusually long-ranged, due to capillary waves. Furthermore, IL cations can exhibit molecular ordering at the IL-oil interface, resulting in a slight residual charge at this interface. We also explore the transient IL-IL interface, revealing molecular interactions responsible for the unusually slow mixing dynamics between two ILs. This dissertation, therefore, contributes to both experimental and theoretical understanding of particle self-assembly at IL based interfaces.

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2013

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Metabolic engineering for the biosynthesis of styrene and its derivatives

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Metabolic engineering is an extremely useful tool enabling the biosynthetic production of commodity chemicals (typically derived from petroleum) from renewable resources. In this work, a pathway for the biosynthesis of styrene (a plastics monomer) has been engineered in Escherichia coli

Metabolic engineering is an extremely useful tool enabling the biosynthetic production of commodity chemicals (typically derived from petroleum) from renewable resources. In this work, a pathway for the biosynthesis of styrene (a plastics monomer) has been engineered in Escherichia coli from glucose by utilizing the pathway for the naturally occurring amino acid phenylalanine, the precursor to styrene. Styrene production was accomplished using an E. coli phenylalanine overproducer, E. coli NST74, and over-expression of PAL2 from Arabidopsis thaliana and FDC1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The styrene pathway was then extended by just one enzyme to either (S)-styrene oxide (StyAB from Pseudomonas putida S12) or (R)-1,2-phenylethanediol (NahAaAbAcAd from Pseudomonas sp. NCIB 9816-4) which are both used in pharmaceutical production. Overall, these pathways suffered from limitations due to product toxicity as well as limited precursor availability. In an effort to overcome the toxicity threshold, the styrene pathway was transferred to a yeast host with a higher toxicity limit. First, Saccharomyces cerevisiae BY4741 was engineered to overproduce phenylalanine. Next, PAL2 (the only enzyme needed to complete the styrene pathway) was then expressed in the BY4741 phenylalanine overproducer. Further strain improvements included the deletion of the phenylpyruvate decarboxylase (ARO10) and expression of a feedback-resistant choristmate mutase (ARO4K229L). These works have successfully demonstrated the possibility of utilizing microorganisms as cellular factories for the production styrene, (S)-styrene oxide, and (R)-1,2-phenylethanediol.

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2014

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Antibody based diagnostic and therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. It is the 6th leading cause of death in United States, and the only one among

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. It is the 6th leading cause of death in United States, and the only one among top 10 death causes that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. An estimated 5.4 million Americans live with AD, and this number is expected to triple by year 2050 as the baby boomers age. The cost of care for AD in the US is about $200 billion each year. Unfortunately, in addition to the lack of an effective treatment or AD, there is also a lack of an effective diagnosis, particularly an early diagnosis which would enable treatment to begin before significant neuronal damage has occurred.

Increasing evidence implicates soluble oligomeric forms of beta-amyloid and tau in the onset and progression of AD. While many studies have focused on beta-amyloid, soluble oligomeric tau species may also play an important role in AD pathogenesis. Antibodies that selectively identify and target specific oligomeric tau variants would be valuable tools for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications and also to study the etiology of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Recombinant human tau (rhTau) in monomeric, dimeric, trimeric and fibrillar forms were synthesized and purified to perform LDH assay on human neuroblastoma cells, so that trimeric but not monomeric or dimeric rhTau was identified as extracellularly neurotoxic to neuronal cells. A novel biopanning protocol was designed based on phage display technique and atomic force microscopy (AFM), and used to isolate single chain antibody variable domain fragments (scFvs) that selectively recognize the toxic tau oligomers. These scFvs selectively bind tau variants in brain tissue of human AD patients and AD-related tau transgenic rodent models and have potential value as early diagnostic biomarkers for AD and as potential therapeutics to selectively target toxic tau aggregates.

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2014

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Improving yields and productivity of microbe-catalyzed production of targeted bio-molecules using in-situ adsorption

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With the aid of metabolic pathways engineering, microbes are finding increased use as biocatalysts to convert renewable biomass resources into fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other valuable compounds. These alternative, bio-based production routes offer distinct advantages over traditional synthesis methods,

With the aid of metabolic pathways engineering, microbes are finding increased use as biocatalysts to convert renewable biomass resources into fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other valuable compounds. These alternative, bio-based production routes offer distinct advantages over traditional synthesis methods, including lower energy requirements, rendering them as more "green" and "eco-friendly". Escherichia coli has recently been engineered to produce the aromatic chemicals (S)-styrene oxide and phenol directly from renewable glucose. Several factors, however, limit the viability of this approach, including low titers caused by product inhibition and/or low metabolic flux through the engineered pathways. This thesis focuses on addressing these concerns using magnetic mesoporous carbon powders as adsorbents for continuous, in-situ product removal as a means to alleviate such limitations. Using process engineering as a means to troubleshoot metabolic pathways by continuously removing products, increased yields are achieved from both pathways. By performing case studies in product toxicity and reaction equilibrium it was concluded that each step of a metabolic pathway can be optimized by the strategic use of in-situ adsorption as a process engineering tool.

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2014

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Exploring growth essential genes in E. coli using synthetic small RNA to enhance production of phenylalanine

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Biomass synthesis is a competing factor in biological systems geared towards generation of commodity and specialty chemicals, ultimately limiting maximum titer and yield; in this thesis, a widely generalizable, modular approach focused on decoupling biomass synthesis from the production of

Biomass synthesis is a competing factor in biological systems geared towards generation of commodity and specialty chemicals, ultimately limiting maximum titer and yield; in this thesis, a widely generalizable, modular approach focused on decoupling biomass synthesis from the production of the phenylalanine in a genetically modified strain of E. coli BW25113 was explored with the use of synthetic trans-encoded small RNA (sRNA) to achieve greater efficiency. The naturally occurring sRNA MicC was used as a scaffold, and combined on a plasmid with a promoter for anhydrous tetracycline (aTc) and a T1/TE terminator. The coding sequence corresponding to the target binding site for fourteen potentially growth-essential gene targets as well as non-essential lacZ was placed in the seed region of the of the sRNA scaffold and transformed into BW25113, effectively generating a unique strain for each gene target. The BW25113 strain corresponding to each gene target was screened in M9 minimal media; decreased optical density and elongated cell morphology changes were observed and quantified in all induced sRNA cases where growth-essential genes were targeted. Six of the strains targeting different aspects of cell division that effectively suppressed growth and resulted in increased cell size were then screened for viability and metabolic activity in a scaled-up shaker flask experiment; all six strains were shown to be viable during stationary phase, and a metabolite analysis showed increased specific glucose consumption rates in induced strains, with unaffected specific glucose consumption rates in uninduced strains. The growth suppression, morphology and metabolic activity of the induced strains in BW25113 was compared to the bacteriostatic additives chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and streptomycin. At this same scale, the sRNA plasmid targeting the gene murA was transformed into BW25113 pINT-GA, a phenylalanine overproducer with the feedback resistant genes aroG and pheA overexpressed. Two induction times were explored during exponential phase, and while the optimal induction time was found to increase titer and yield amongst the BW25113 pINT-GA murA sRNA variant, overall this did not have as great a titer or yield as the BW25113 pINT-GA strain without the sRNA plasmid; this may be a result of the cell filamentation.

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2016

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A density functional theory study of CO2 interaction with brookite TiO2

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Over the past years, an interest has arisen in resolving two major issues: increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and depleting energy resources. A convenient solution would be a process that could simultaneously use CO2 while producing energy. The photocatalytic reduction

Over the past years, an interest has arisen in resolving two major issues: increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and depleting energy resources. A convenient solution would be a process that could simultaneously use CO2 while producing energy. The photocatalytic reduction of CO2 to fuels over the photocatalyst titanium dioxide (TiO2) is such a process. However, this process is presently inefficient and unsuitable for industrial applications. A step toward making this process more effective is to alter TiO2 based photocatalysts to improve their activity. The interactions of CO2 with oxygen-deficient and unmodified (210) surfaces of brookite TiO2 were studied using first-principle calculations on cluster systems. Charge and spin density analyses were implemented to determine if charge transfer to the CO2 molecule occurred and whether this charge transfer was comparable to that seen with the oxygen-deficient and unmodified anatase TiO2 (101) surfaces. Although the unmodified brookite (210) surface provided energetically similar CO2 interactions as compared to the unmodified anatase (101) surface, the unmodified brookite surface had negligible charge transfer to the CO2 molecule. This result suggests that unmodified brookite is not a suitable catalyst for the reduction of CO2. However, the results also suggest that modification of the brookite surface through the creation of oxygen vacancies may lead to enhancements in CO2 reduction. The computational results were supported with laboratory data for CO2 interaction with perfect brookite and oxygen-deficient brookite. The laboratory data, generated using diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, confirms the presence of CO2- on only the oxygen-deficient brookite. Additional computational work was performed on I-doped anatase (101) and I-doped brookite (210) surface clusters. Adsorption energies and charge and spin density analyses were performed and the results compared. While charge and spin density analyses showed minute charge transfer to CO2, the calculated adsorption energies demonstrated an increased affinity for CO2adsorption onto the I-doped brookite surface. Gathering the results from all calculations, the computational work on oxygen-deficient, I-doped, and unmodified anatase and brookite surface structures suggest that brookite TiO2 is a potential photocatalysts for CO2 photoreduction.

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2012

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Characterization of novel adsorbents for the recovery of alcohol biofuels from aqueous solutions via solid-phase extraction

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Emergent environmental issues, ever-shrinking petroleum reserves, and rising fossil fuel costs continue to spur interest in the development of sustainable biofuels from renewable feed-stocks. Meanwhile, however, the development and viability of biofuel fermentations remain limited by numerous factors such as

Emergent environmental issues, ever-shrinking petroleum reserves, and rising fossil fuel costs continue to spur interest in the development of sustainable biofuels from renewable feed-stocks. Meanwhile, however, the development and viability of biofuel fermentations remain limited by numerous factors such as feedback inhibition and inefficient and generally energy intensive product recovery processes. To circumvent both feedback inhibition and recovery issues, researchers have turned their attention to incorporating energy efficient separation techniques such as adsorption in in situ product recovery (ISPR) approaches. This thesis focused on the characterization of two novel adsorbents for the recovery of alcohol biofuels from model aqueous solutions. First, a hydrophobic silica aerogel was evaluated as a biofuel adsorbent through characterization of equilibrium behavior for conventional second generation biofuels (e.g., ethanol and n-butanol). Longer chain and accordingly more hydrophobic alcohols (i.e., n-butanol and 2-pentanol) were more effectively adsorbed than shorter chain alcohols (i.e., ethanol and i-propanol), suggesting a mechanism of hydrophobic adsorption. Still, the adsorbed alcohol capacity at biologically relevant conditions were low relative to other `model' biofuel adsorbents as a result of poor interfacial contact between the aqueous and sorbent. However, sorbent wettability and adsorption is greatly enhanced at high concentrations of alcohol in the aqueous. Consequently, the sorbent exhibits Type IV adsorption isotherms for all biofuels studied, which results from significant multilayer adsorption at elevated alcohol concentrations in the aqueous. Additionally, sorbent wettability significantly affects the dynamic binding efficiency within a packed adsorption column. Second, mesoporous carbons were evaluated as biofuel adsorbents through characterization of equilibrium and kinetic behavior. Variations in synthetic conditions enabled tuning of specific surface area and pore morphology of adsorbents. The adsorbed alcohol capacity increased with elevated specific surface area of the adsorbents. While their adsorption capacity is comparable to polymeric adsorbents of similar surface area, pore morphology and structure of mesoporous carbons greatly influenced adsorption rates. Multiple cycles of adsorbent regeneration rendered no impact on adsorption equilibrium or kinetics. The high chemical and thermal stability of mesoporous carbons provide potential significant advantages over other commonly examined biofuel adsorbents. Correspondingly, mesoporous carbons should be further studied for biofuel ISPR applications.

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2011

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Pervaporation of ethanol/water mixtures using PDMS mixed matrix membranes

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ABSTRACT Among the major applications of pervaporation membrane processes, organic separation from organic/water mixtures is becoming increasingly important. The polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is among the most interesting and promising membranes and has been extensively investigated. PDMS is an "organicelastomeric material, often

ABSTRACT Among the major applications of pervaporation membrane processes, organic separation from organic/water mixtures is becoming increasingly important. The polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is among the most interesting and promising membranes and has been extensively investigated. PDMS is an "organicelastomeric material, often referred to as "silicone rubber", exhibiting excellent film-forming ability, thermal stability, chemical and physiological inertness. In this thesis incorporation of nanosilicalite-1 particles into a PDMS matrix and effect of particle loading and temperature variation on membrane performance was studied. A strong influence of zeolite was found on the pervaporation of alcohol/water mixtures using filled PDMS membranes. The mixed matrix membrane showed high separation factor at higher zeolite loading and high flux at higher temperature.

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2012

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Interaction between organophosphorus and oxide surface for air pollution control

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The release of organophosphorus compounds (OPs) and subsequent exposure to these compounds is of concern to humans and the environment. The goal of this work was to control the concentrations of gaseous OPs through interaction with sorbent oxides.

The release of organophosphorus compounds (OPs) and subsequent exposure to these compounds is of concern to humans and the environment. The goal of this work was to control the concentrations of gaseous OPs through interaction with sorbent oxides. Experimental and computational methods were employed to assess the interactions of dimethyl phosphite (DMHP), dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP), dimethyl ethylphosphonate (DMEP), diethyl ethylphosphonate (DEEP), and triethyl phosphate (TEP) with amorphous silica (a-silica), ã-alumina, and monoclinic zirconia (m-zirconia) for applications in air pollution control. Interactions of the selected OPs with a-silica were chosen as a baseline to determine the applicability of the computational predictions. Based on the a-silica results, computational methods were deemed valid for predicting the trends among materials with comparable interactions (e.g. -OH functionality of a-silica interacting with the phosphonyl O atoms of the OPs). Computational evaluations of the interactions with the OPs were extended to the oxide material, m-zirconia, and compared with the results for ã-alumina. It was hypothesized that m-zirconia had the potential to provide for the effective sorption of OPs in a manner superior to that of the a-silica and the ã-alumina surfaces due to the surface charges of the zirconium Lewis acid sites when coordinated in the oxidized form. Based on the computational study, the predicted heats of adsorption for the selected OPs onto m-zirconia were more favorable than those that were predicted for ã-alumina and a-silica. Experimental studies were carried out to confirm these computational results. M-zirconia nanoparticles were synthesized to determine if the materials could be utilized for the adsorption of the selected OPs. M-zirconia was shown to adsorb the OPs, and the heats of adsorption were stronger than those determined for commercial samples of a-silica. However, water interfered with the adsorption of the OPs onto m-zirconia, thus leading to heats of adsorption that were much weaker than those predicted computationally. Nevertheless, this work provides a first investigation of m-zirconia as a viable sorbent material for the ambient control of the selected gaseous OPs. Additionally, this work represents the first comparative study between computational predictions and experimental determination of thermodynamic properties for the interactions of the selected OPs and oxide surfaces.

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2011

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Synthesis, characterizations and applications of mesoporous carbon composites

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This dissertation provides a fundamental understanding of the properties of mesoporous carbon based materials and the utilization of those properties into different applications such as electrodes materials for super capacitors, adsorbents for water treatments and biosensors. The thickness of mesoporous

This dissertation provides a fundamental understanding of the properties of mesoporous carbon based materials and the utilization of those properties into different applications such as electrodes materials for super capacitors, adsorbents for water treatments and biosensors. The thickness of mesoporous carbon films on Si substrates are measured by Ellipsometry method and pore size distribution has been calculated by Kelvin equation based on toluene adsorption and desorption isotherms monitored by Ellipsometer. The addition of organometallics cobalt and vanalyl acetylacetonate in the synthesis precursor leads to the metal oxides in the carbon framework, which largely decreased the shrink of the framework during carbonization, resulting in an increase in the average pore size. In addition to the structural changes, the introduction of metal oxides into mesoporous carbon framework greatly enhances the electrochemical performance as a result of their pseudocapacitance. Also, after the addition of Co into the framework, the contraction of mesoporous powders decreased significantly and the capacitance increased prominently because of the solidification function of CoO nanoparticles. When carbon-cobalt composites are used as adsorbent, the adsorption capacity of dye pollutant in water is remarkably higher (90 mg/g) after adding Co than the mesoporous carbon powder (2 mg/g). Furthermore, the surface area and pore size of mesoporous composites can be greatly increased by addition of tetraethyl orthosilicate into the precursor with subsequent etching, which leads to a dramatic increase in the adsorption capacity from 90 mg/g up to 1151 mg/g. When used as electrode materials for amperometric biosensors, mesoporous carbons showed good sensitivity, selectivity and stability. And fluorine-free and low-cost poly (methacrylate)s have been developed as binders for screen printed biosensors. With using only 5wt% of poly (hydroxybutyl methacrylate), the glucose sensor maintained mechanical integrity and exhibited excellent sensitivity on detecting glucose level in whole rabbit blood. Furthermore, extremely high surface area mesoporous carbons have been synthesized by introducing inorganic Si precursor during self-assembly, which effectively determined norepinephrine at very low concentrations.

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2012