Harnessing Membrane Protein Functionalities in Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Materials
UC Santa Barbara
Characterization and Properties
Synthesis and Formulation
Despite membrane proteins’ exceptional selectivities for transporting ions, water, or other species which are useful for solar-to-electrochemical energy conversion or water treatment applications, harnessing their functionalities for practical purposes has not been successful due to lack of suitable host materials that are robust while retaining proteins’ functionalities. This project will focus on particularly interesting membrane protein, proteorhodopsin (PR), a light-activated proton pump that absorbs green light to actively transport protons across its membrane, and incorporate high-loadings of PR into abiotic silica-surfactant films to generate macroscopic proton gradients across the film for energy conversion applications. Our scientific and engineering objectives are to measure, understand, and exploit the molecular-level compositions, structures, dynamics, and interactions of functionally active membrane protein molecules with surfactants and local host environments.