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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Sankaran Thayumanavan

Second Advisor

Richard Vachet

Third Advisor

Nathan Schnarr

Subject Categories

Chemistry | Materials Chemistry | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology | Polymer Chemistry


Increasing motivation for the development of nanotechnology with applications in sensing, nanotheranostics, combinatorial therapy and drug/protein delivery have brought a broad spectrum of multifunctional polymeric materials. With interest in obtaining more efficient methods for fast and accurate diagnostics, nanostructures able to rapidly obtain large sets of data for analyte sensing are necessary. Likewise, interests in, not only obtaining accurate diagnostics, but also being able to concurrently and accurately provide therapy has inspired us to develop such technologies.

We particularly focus on understanding the assembly and disassembly processes of polymeric nanostructures in response to biologically relevant stimuli. We are interested in mimicking natural sensing events and take advantage of the differential binding affinity of a set of receptors to generate analyte-specific patterns to use as sensors. Receptors developed in our laboratories have demonstrated impressive recognition capabilities for proteins. When a set of polyelectrolytes and surfactants with different hydrophobic and electronic properties, as well as the guest molecule (transducer) with different characteristics, are combined, fluorescence patterns for proteins can be generated. Creating patterns using protein-induced disassembly not only provides the opportunity to have a new method for sensing analytes that are not electronically complementary to the fluorescent transducers, but also reduces the synthetic complexity even further, since these are assembled from its components noncovalently.

A versatile and efficient delivery vehicle should have a tunable particle size, provide protection and stability to the cargo to prevent premature release before approaching the target site and should provide ease of cargo incorporation strategies. This ease of incorporation becomes more challenging when we are talking about incorporating molecules with different characteristics. Here we demostrate the versatility of self-crosslinked polymeric nanogels on the incorporation of lipophilic small molecules on its interior and hydrophilic proteins at the surface. Also, different approaches of protein incorporation can be obtained using these polymeric nanogels, which provide differences in protein release and cell internalization. These technologies were found to be potential candidates for applications such as nanotheranostics, combinatorial therapy and protein delivery.