Organic Films

Protein Adsorption

protein adsorption graphic

Proteins are nature's nanomachines, performing the required functions of life. Proteins often do their jobs by directly interacting with cell walls, other proteins, and, increasingly, artificial surfaces, such as drug coatings, joint replacements, stents, etc. Because it is vital that we understand how proteins work (or fail to work in the case of some diseases), a large number of research groups are studying how proteins adhere to surfaces.

I also look at protein adsorption by using a new technique called in situ x-ray reflectivity. Very intense beams of x-rays can be produced by labs around the world, but x-rays have not typically been used to look at organic films that are in solution (in which proteins are dissolved). My work seeks to determine how well x-rays can be used in this area. If they can be, then the extremely high resolution information that x-ray studies provide will advance our knowledge of the important process of protein adsorption.

I have obtained a fair amount of x-ray data which I am currently analyzing. I have given several conference talks on this area, beginning in 2005. A manuscript is in preparation. The initial results suggest that x-ray reflectivity will be good for looking at the closest region of protein-film contact, but is not great for the protein-solution region. In addition, x-ray reflectivity may be used, with some future modification, to perform time-resolved studies, watching how a protein film develops as it adsorps.