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Targeting Tumors: Inclusion of Functional Groups on Ion-Containing Block Copolymers to Combat Cancer

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This research attempts to determine the most effective method of synthesizing a peptide such that it can be utilized as a targeting moiety for polymeric micelles. Two melanoma-associated peptides with

This research attempts to determine the most effective method of synthesizing a peptide such that it can be utilized as a targeting moiety for polymeric micelles. Two melanoma-associated peptides with high in vitro and in vivo binding affinity for TNF receptors have been identified and synthesized. Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-ToF) was used to help verify the structure of both peptides, which were purified using Reversed-Phase High Performance Liquid Chromatography (RP-HPLC). The next steps in the research are to attach the peptides to a micelle and determine their impact on micelle stability.

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  • 2016-05

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Modulation of mammalian cell behavior for enhancing polymer-mediated transgene expression

Description

Gene delivery is a broadly applicable tool that has applications in gene therapy, production of therapeutic proteins, and as a study tool to understand biological pathways. However, for successful gene

Gene delivery is a broadly applicable tool that has applications in gene therapy, production of therapeutic proteins, and as a study tool to understand biological pathways. However, for successful gene delivery, the gene and its carrier must bypass or traverse a number of formidable obstacles before successfully entering the cell’s nucleus where the host cell’s machinery can be utilized to express a protein encoded by the gene of interest. The vast majority of work in the gene delivery field focuses on overcoming these barriers by creative synthesis of nanoparticle delivery vehicles or conjugation of targeting moieties to the nucleic acid or delivery vehicle, but little work focuses on modifying the target cell’s behavior to make it more amenable to transfection.

In this work, a number of kinase enzymes have been identified by inhibition to be targets for enhancing polymer-mediated transgene expression (chapter 2), including the lead target which appears to affect intracellular trafficking of delivered nucleic acid cargo. The subsequent sections (chapters 3 and 4) of this work focus on targeting epigenetic modifying enzymes to enhance polymer-mediated transgene expression, and a number of candidate enzymes have been identified. Some mechanistic evaluation of these targets have been carried out and discussion of ongoing experiments and future directions to better understand the mechanistic descriptions behind the phenomena are discussed. The overall goal is to enhance non-viral (polymer-mediated) transgene expression by modulating cellular behavior for general gene delivery applications.

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  • 2016

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Engineering Escherichia coli for the Novel and Enhanced Biosynthesis of Phenol, Catechol, and Muconic Acid

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The engineering of microbial cell factories capable of synthesizing industrially relevant chemical building blocks is an attractive alternative to conventional petrochemical-based production methods. This work focuses on the novel and

The engineering of microbial cell factories capable of synthesizing industrially relevant chemical building blocks is an attractive alternative to conventional petrochemical-based production methods. This work focuses on the novel and enhanced biosynthesis of phenol, catechol, and muconic acid (MA). Although the complete biosynthesis from glucose has been previously demonstrated for all three compounds, established production routes suffer from notable inherent limitations. Here, multiple pathways to the same three products were engineered, each incorporating unique enzyme chemistries and/or stemming from different endogenous precursors. In the case of phenol, two novel pathways were constructed and comparatively evaluated, with titers reaching as high as 377 ± 14 mg/L at a glucose yield of 35.7 ± 0.8 mg/g. In the case of catechol, three novel pathways were engineered with titers reaching 100 ± 2 mg/L. Finally, in the case of MA, four novel pathways were engineered with maximal titers reaching 819 ± 44 mg/L at a glucose yield of 40.9 ± 2.2 mg/g. Furthermore, the unique flexibility with respect to engineering multiple pathways to the same product arises in part because these compounds are common intermediates in aromatic degradation pathways. Expanding on the novel pathway engineering efforts, a synthetic ‘metabolic funnel’ was subsequently constructed for phenol and MA, wherein multiple pathways were expressed in parallel to maximize carbon flux toward the final product. Using this novel ‘funneling’ strategy, maximal phenol and MA titers exceeding 0.5 and 3 g/L, respectively, were achieved, representing the highest achievable production metrics products reported to date.

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  • 2017

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Concentration polarization, nanophotonic flux enhancement and the mitigation of concentration polarization in pervaporation desalination

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Membrane based technology is one of the principal methods currently in widespread use to address the global water shortage. Pervaporation desalination is a membrane technology for water purification currently under

Membrane based technology is one of the principal methods currently in widespread use to address the global water shortage. Pervaporation desalination is a membrane technology for water purification currently under investigation as a method for processing reverse osmosis concentrates or for stand-alone applications. Concentration polarization is a potential problem in any membrane separation. In desalination concentration polarization can lead to reduced water flux, increased propensity for membrane scaling, and decreased quality of the product water. Quantifying concentration polarization is important because reducing concentration polarization requires increased capital and operating costs in the form of feed spacers and high feed flow velocities. The prevalent methods for quantifying concentration polarization are based on the steady state thin film boundary layer theory. Baker’s method, previously used for pervaporation volatile organic compound separations but not desalination, was successfully applied to data from five previously published pervaporation desalination studies. Further investigation suggests that Baker’s method may not have wide applicability in desalination. Instead, the limitations of the steady state assumption were exposed. Additionally, preliminary results of nanophotonic enhancement of pervaporation membranes were found to produce significant flux enhancement. A novel theory on the mitigation of concentration polarization by the photothermal effect was discussed.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Material Processing for Edible Electronics

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A new type of electronics was envisioned, namely edible electronics. Edible electronics are made by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified edible materials which can be eaten and digested by

A new type of electronics was envisioned, namely edible electronics. Edible electronics are made by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified edible materials which can be eaten and digested by human body. Different from implantable electronics, test or treatment using edible electronics doesn’t require operations and perioperative complications.

This dissertation bridges the food industry, material sciences, device fabrication, and biomedical engineering by demonstrating edible supercapacitors and electronic components and devices such as pH sensor.

Edible supercapacitors were fabricated using food materials from grocery store. 5 of them were connected in series to power a snake camera. Tests result showed that the current generated by supercapacitor have the ability to kill bacteria. Next more food, processed food and non-toxic level electronic materials were investigated. A “preferred food kit” was created for component fabrication based on the investigation. Some edible electronic components, such as wires, resistor, inductor, etc., were developed and characterized utilizing the preferred food kit. These components make it possible to fabricate edible electronic/device in the future work. Some edible electronic components were integrated into an edible electronic system/device. Then edible pH sensor was introduced and fabricated. This edible pH sensor can be swallowed and test pH of gastric fluid. PH can be read in a phone within seconds after the pH sensor was swallowed. As a side project, an edible double network gel electrolyte was synthesized for the edible supercapacitor.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Comparison of Encapsulant Degradation between Glass/Backsheet and Glass/Glass Field-aged Photovoltaic Modules

Description

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is the most commonly used encapsulant in photovoltaic modules. However, EVA degrades over time and causes performance losses in PV system. Therefore, EVA degradation is a

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is the most commonly used encapsulant in photovoltaic modules. However, EVA degrades over time and causes performance losses in PV system. Therefore, EVA degradation is a matter of concern from a durability point of view.

This work compares EVA encapsulant degradation in glass/backsheet and glass/glass field-aged PV modules. EVA was extracted from three field-aged modules (two glass/backsheet and one glass/glass modules) from three different manufacturers from various regions (cell edges, cell centers, and non-cell region) from each module based on their visual and UV Fluorescence images. Characterization techniques such as I-V measurements, Colorimetry, Different Scanning Calorimetry, Thermogravimetric Analysis, Raman spectroscopy, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy were performed on EVA samples.

The intensity of EVA discoloration was quantified using colorimetric measurements. Module performance parameters like Isc and Pmax degradation rates were calculated from I-V measurements. Properties such as degree of crystallinity, vinyl acetate content and degree of crosslinking were calculated from DSC, TGA, and Raman measurements, respectively. Polyenes responsible for EVA browning were identified in FTIR spectra.

The results from the characterization techniques confirmed that when EVA undergoes degradation, crosslinking in EVA increases beyond 90% causing a decrease in the degree of crystallinity and an increase in vinyl acetate content of EVA. Presence of polyenes in FTIR spectra of degraded EVA confirmed the occurrence of Norrish II reaction. However, photobleaching occurred in glass/backsheet modules due to the breathable backsheet whereas no photobleaching occurred in glass/glass modules because they were hermetically sealed. Hence, the yellowness index along with the Isc and Pmax degradation rates of EVA in glass/glass module is higher than that in glass/backsheet modules.

The results implied that more acetic acid was produced in the non-cell region due to its double layer of EVA compared to the front EVA from cell region. But, since glass/glass module is hermetically sealed, acetic acid gets entrapped inside the module further accelerating EVA degradation whereas it diffuses out through backsheet in glass/backsheet modules. Hence, it can be said that EVA might be a good encapsulant for glass/backsheet modules, but the same cannot be said for glass/glass modules.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Design of Metal-Organic Frameworks for Carbon Capture Applications: Approaches for Adsorptive Separation of CO2/N2 and O2/N2 Mixtures

Description

The large-scale anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere leads to many unintended consequences, from rising sea levels to ocean acidification. While a clean energy infrastructure is growing, mid-term

The large-scale anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere leads to many unintended consequences, from rising sea levels to ocean acidification. While a clean energy infrastructure is growing, mid-term strategies that are compatible with the current infrastructure should be developed. Carbon capture and storage in fossil-fuel power plants is one way to avoid our current gigaton-scale emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, for this to be possible, separation techniques are necessary to remove the nitrogen from air before combustion or from the flue gas after combustion. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a relatively new class of porous material that show great promise for adsorptive separation processes. Here, potential mechanisms of O2/N2 separation and CO2/N2 separation are explored.

First, a logical categorization of potential adsorptive separation mechanisms in MOFs is outlined by comparing existing data with previously studied materials. Size-selective adsorptive separation is investigated for both gas systems using molecular simulations. A correlation between size-selective equilibrium adsorptive separation capabilities and pore diameter is established in materials with complex pore distributions. A method of generating mobile extra-framework cations which drastically increase adsorptive selectivity toward nitrogen over oxygen via electrostatic interactions is explored through experiments and simulations. Finally, deposition of redox-active ferrocene molecules into systematically generated defects is shown to be an effective method of increasing selectivity towards oxygen.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Carbon Dioxide Transfer Characteristics of Hollow-Fiber, Composite Membranes

Description

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have reached unprecedented levels due to increasing anthropogenic emissions and increasing energy demand. CO2 capture and utilization can aid in stabilizing atmospheric

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have reached unprecedented levels due to increasing anthropogenic emissions and increasing energy demand. CO2 capture and utilization can aid in stabilizing atmospheric CO2 levels and producing carbon-neutral fuels. Utilizing hollow fiber membranes (HFMs) for microalgal cultivation accomplishes that via bubbleless gas-transfer, preventing CO2 loss to the atmosphere. Various lengths and geometries of HFMs were used to deliver CO2 to a sodium carbonate solution. A model was developed to calculate CO2 flux, mass-transfer coefficient (KL), and volumetric mass-transfer coefficient (KLa) based on carbonate equilibrium and the alkalinity of the solution. The model was also applied to a sparging system, whose performance was compared with that of the HFMs. Typically, HFMs are operated in closed-end mode or open-end mode. The former is characterized by a high transfer efficiency, while the latter provides the advantage of a high transfer rate. HFMs were evaluated for both modes of operation and a varying inlet CO2 concentration to determine the effect of inert gas and water vapor accumulation on transfer rates. For pure CO2, a closed-end module operated as efficiently as an open-end module. Closed-end modules perform significantly worse when CO2-enriched air was supplied. This was shown by the KLa values calculated using the model. Finally, a mass-balance model was constructed for the lumen of the membranes in order to provide insight into the gas-concentration profiles inside the fiber lumen. For dilute CO2 inlet streams, accumulation of inert gases -- nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O2), and water vapor (H2O) -- significantly affected module performance by reducing the average CO2 partial pressure in the membrane and diminishing the amount of interfacial mass-transfer area available for CO2 transfer.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Electrode-Coated Inorganic Separators for High Performance and Safe Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Metal Batteries

Description

Lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries are deemed to be the choice of energy storage media for the future. However, they are not entirely safe and their performance in terms of cycle

Lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries are deemed to be the choice of energy storage media for the future. However, they are not entirely safe and their performance in terms of cycle life and charging rates is sub-optimal. A majority of these issues arise from the currently used flammable polyolefinic separators and carbonate solvent based electrolytes. This work utilizes in-house developed and specific property tuned electrode-coated inorganic separators in combination with a fire-proof electrolyte to resolve the above stated concerns.Firstly, to improve the safety of the lithium-ion cell with a commercial polypropylene separator a thermally stable in-house developed electrode coated quartz silica separator is utilized. The silica separator due to its better electrolyte wettability, electrolyte uptake and lower resistance also offers better capacity retention (~ 15 %) at high rates of discharge. Subsequently, research on developing a completely safe lithium-ion battery was conducted by replacing the traditional carbonate solvent based electrolyte with a fire-proof lithium bis-fluoro sulphonyl-imide salt/tri-methyl phosphate solvent electrolyte. However, this electrolyte has a high viscosity and low separator wetting rate.
A microporous in house synthesized silicalite electrode-coated separator due to its high surface energy functionalizes the viscous fire-proof electrolyte and together they are tested in a full-cell. The intra-particle pores of the silicalite separator result in a thinner and more robust solid electrolyte interface on graphite. This results in about 20 % higher capacity retention during long term cycling when compared to the polypropylene separator used in the same full-cell.
To enable stable and fast charging lithium-metal batteries free from dendrite propagation related failure, plate shaped γ-alumina and silicalite electrode-coated separators with high tortuosity are developed and used in a lithium-metal full-cell battery, with the former separator having no intra-particle pores and the latter having them. The γ-alumina separators show improvements in dendrite propagation prevention up to 3 C-rate of charge/discharge but a loss in active lithium is seen beyond the 75th cycle. However, microporous plate-shaped silicalite separators did not show any loss in active lithium even at 3 C-rate for 100 cycles due to the homogenized lithium-ion flux at the anode, while also preventing dendrite propagation.

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Date Created
  • 2021

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Development and characterization of chemical resistant water separation composite membranes by using impermeable polymer matrix

Description

Water recovery from impaired sources, such as reclaimed wastewater, brackish groundwater, and ocean water, is imperative as freshwater resources are under great pressure. Complete reuse of urine wastewater is also

Water recovery from impaired sources, such as reclaimed wastewater, brackish groundwater, and ocean water, is imperative as freshwater resources are under great pressure. Complete reuse of urine wastewater is also necessary to sustain life on space exploration missions of greater than one year’s duration. Currently, the Water Recovery System (WRS) used on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shuttles recovers only 70% of generated wastewater.1 Current osmotic processes show high capability to increase water recovery from wastewater. However, commercial reverse osmosis (RO) membranes rapidly degrade when exposed to pretreated urine-containing wastewater. Also, non-ionic small molecules substances (i.e., urea) are very poorly rejected by commercial RO membranes.

In this study, an innovative composite membrane that integrates water-selective molecular sieve particles into a liquid-barrier chemically resistant polymer film is synthetized. This plan manipulates distinctive aspects of the two materials used to create the membranes: (1) the innate permeation and selectivity of the molecular sieves, and (2) the decay-resistant, versatile, and mechanical strength of the liquid-barrier polymer support matrix.

To synthesize the membrane, Linde Type A (LTA) zeolite particles are anchored to the porous substrate, producing a single layer of zeolite particles capable of transporting water through the membrane. Thereafter, coating the chemically resistant latex polymer filled the space between zeolites. Finally, excess polymer was etched from the surface to expose the zeolites to the feed solution. The completed membranes were tested in reverse osmosis mode with deionized water, sodium chloride, and rhodamine solutions to determine the suitability for water recovery.

The main distinguishing characteristics of the new membrane design compared with current composite membrane include: (1) the use of an impermeable polymer broadens the range of chemical resistant polymers that can be used as the polymer matrix; (2) the use of zeolite particles with specific pore size insures the high rejection of the neutral molecules since water is transported through the zeolite rather than the polymer; (3) the use of latex dispersions, environmentally friendly water based-solutions, as the polymer matrix shares the qualities of low volatile organic compound, low cost, and non- toxicity.

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Date Created
  • 2016