Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

Surya Mallapragada


In Nature, hybrid materials with hierarchical structure are formed by biomineralization of organic macromolecules that act as templates for the nucleation and/or growth of the inorganic component. The building blocks of the natural organic macromolecules provide the template architectures that result in chemical and morphological diversity in the inorganic phases. Inspired by the formation of biominerals in living organisms, novel organic-inorganic hybrid materials have been designed and developed by biomimetic routes. There is a growing interest in using synthetic polymers, engineered proteins, and various polymer-based hybrid architectures as templates for bioinspired synthesis.

In this work, we have used amphiphilic block copolymers as well as block copolymer-protein conjugates that undergo hierarchical self-assembly to form nanoscale micelles and macroscale gels as templates for controlled nanocomposite formation within the polymeric matrix. The amphiphilic block copolymers that were generated based on Pluronics are unique systems that can reversibly self-assemble into macroscale elastic solids in solution, based on pH and temperature changes. The efforts were focused on three systems--calcium phosphate nanocomposites, zirconia nanocomposites, and magnetic nanocomposites.

We have developed a robust method with control over the formation as well as placement of an inorganic phase in the nanocomposite structure, for a variety of different inorganic nanoparticles, such as calcium phosphate, zirconia and magnetic nanoparticles. The future work will be focused on using biominerlization proteins to create functional dynamic magnetic materials and nanostructures both in solution and on surfaces.


Copyright Owner

Xunpei Liu



File Format


File Size

182 pages