Photosystem I Protein Incorporation in Self-assembling Block Copolymer Membranes

Open Access
Mccrea, J
Area of Honors:
Chemical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Manish Kumar, Thesis Supervisor
  • Darrell Velegol, Honors Advisor
  • photosystem
  • photosynthesis
  • polymers
  • block copolymers
  • photovoltaics
  • protein
  • membranes
  • lipids
  • bilayer
Block copolymer membranes provide high utility in the field of membrane science by being able to provide a biomimetic environment similar to the environment created by lipid membranes. In this project, the goal was to create self-assembling block copolymer membranes incorporated with photosystem I (PSI) protein. This is the first step in a process that could create a device for conversion of solar energy by mounting this protein embedded membrane on a gold electrode, which could generate a photocurrent in the presence of light. Using poly(butadiene)-poly(ethylene oxide) block copolymers and PSI protein purified from cyanobacteria and dialysis, several membrane samples with packed proteins were successfully created. These different crystals utilized different amounts of protein and polymers (protein polymer ratio – PoPR) and were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). In the end, consistent, stable membrane two-dimensional crystals were unable to be formed. Future work in the field would revolve around finding ideal conditions for crystal formation before continuing on to creating the device for solar energy conversion.