Faculty Sponsor's Department:
Protein functionality is directly linked to its 3D structure. Several techniques, including X-Ray diffraction, NMR and cyro-EM, exist for protein structure determinations. However, these techniques have different short comings, resulting in many challenges. One strategy to overcome these challenges, and to implement new characterization techniques, is to improve the stability of proteins, something that can be obtained by embedding them into solid silica glasses. The project is focused on preparation and evaluation of protein embedding in silica thin films formed using spin coating. Spin coating is a technique where a substrate is covered with a liquid solution which is removed by high rotation speed, leaving a thin film of material. This procedure has several tunable parameters such as rotation speed; composition, volume, and pH of solution; drying time and temperature, etc. The aim is to evaluate the influence that these parameters have on the properties of the produced film. The properties of the film were evaluated by use of profilometer, fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy among others. The goal was to determine a pattern resulting from the changing parameters and ultimately a procedure for producing an ideal thin-film.