Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is an evanescent wave refractive index measurement made at a metal-coated surface and has been demonstrated to be a quantitative, sensitive, and label-free technique for measuring the binding kinetics of proteins, DNA, cells, and small molecules to surface-immobilized capture agents. The combination of imaging with SPR (SPRI) allows sensitive and accurate quantification of cell areas and dynamic changes in cell-substrate interactions such as membrane ruffling. SPRI also affords quantification of secretion of proteins from cells, and changes in surface protein density as a function of time and location. The custom-designed SPRI will aid researchers in studying adsorption of peptides, nanoparticles, proteins and other bioconjugates on polymers, self assembled monolayers and even live cells in culture. The fluorescence microscopy configuration will enable the capture of cell morphology information, spatial distributions of ligands and receptors and competitive molecular uptake studies which when coupled to the adsorption and kinetic data from SPRi will provide opportunities for quantitative and statistical measurements of cell material interactions. In 2009, Dr. Becker initiated a long-term outreach effort with St. Vincent / St. Mary High School (STVM). It has grown to include 10 additional faculty members at UA. Uniquely, EVERY year, at each grade level, EVERY student is required to complete a year-long, inquiry-based science project as part of the science curriculum. The science inquiry method encourages students to ask in depth questions and then to apply themselves, including conducting experiments, to find the answers, rather than merely memorize facts. The students research and identify a problem that they proceed to solve or answer by carefully and methodically performing experiments, conducting research and consulting with the teams of faculty, graduate students, high school teachers and students. Results are formulated into ACS POLYMER PREPRINT style manuscripts. Collectively the efforts of 11 teams (student, faculty, teacher) led to STVM in winning the Harold C. Shaw Outstanding School Award and named as the outstanding high school science program in the State of Ohio in both 2010 and 2011. We aim to use real data collected by the students in the science inquiry program to demonstrate physical phenomena of refractive index, optical adsorption and protein adsorption which will be incorporated into new modules in the high school physics curriculum.

Nontechnical Abstract

The interactions of molecules with surfaces play an important role in many biological and physical processes. The adsorption of these biomolecules are important for designing materials that have antimicrobial properties, developing scaffolds for tissue engineering, bone growth, and drug delivery. The acquisition of Imaging Surface Plasmon Resonance Instrumentation (SPR) will provide information on adsorption of proteins, peptides and nanometer-size particles on surfaces. This new capability at the University of Akron (UA) will provide opportunities for students and faculty members in twelve research groups to investigate fundamental and applied problems in the area of biomaterials. This additional capability will accelerate the development of new biomaterials and provide important training to graduate and undergraduate students. In addition local high school students participating in a year-long science inquiry program at UA will use the instrumentation to study kinetics of adsorption. We aim to use real data collected by the students to demonstrate physical phenomena of refractive index, optical adsorption and protein adsorption which will be incorporated into new modules in the high school physics curriculum.

Project Report

Project Summary: The imaging Surface Plasmon Resonance (iSPR) instrument proposed in our NSF MRI was completed in September of 2013. It is located in Room 220 of the National Polymer Innovation Center and maintained by the staff of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering at The University of Akron who provide user access and training. SPR Biosystems LLC developed and implemented custom build surface plasmon resonance microscope (SPRM) combined with SPR assisted fluorescence microscope (SPRFM) for material science and bioscience applications for The University of Akron. Intellectual Merit: The funding of the NSF MRI proposal enabled the construction of a world class Biointerfaces Laboratory that is being developed in the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. The cost match for this proposal was the acquisition of a Biolin Scientific Q4 QSense Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) which was purchased immediately following the official notice of award. The acquisition of two complementary instruments, an Imaging Surface Plasmon Resonance Spectrometer and Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM), will significantly modernize and enhance the imaging and interface characterization capabilities of the for surface functionalized and nanostructured polymers, especially for energy and biomedical applications. While the imaging SPR was only recently brought on line and procedures and protocols for its use are being developed, the Q4 QCM has been used by more than a dozen research groups and three industrial companies. It is a powerful instrument and to date has led to data published in a number of manuscripts and proposal applications. We are confident that when the potential of these instruments are fully developed and realized, the outcomes in terms of new information and fundamental biointerface problems in polymeric biomaterials that can be addressed in ways not previously possible will be stunning Broader Impacts: The University of Akron (UA) is one of the largest polymer programs in the world with over 40 research active faculty and more than 300 graduate students actively engaged in research. Emerging needs and opportunities in advanced biomedical materials and devices led to a curriculum redesign within our college and led to the hiring of nearly 30 additional research faculty over past three years at The University of Akron. The Biointerfaces Laboratory has been a key facility that has been developed in response to the research needs of the faculty, students and industrial stakeholders. Several new internal and external collaborations have arisen especially in the area of polymer drug delivery and quantitating water uptake in polymer solids for which this unique "one of a kind" instruments was specifically designed. These instruments have been available to undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across the university. Several corporations have also accessed the facilities for thier own research needs. In addition, training modules have been developed at both the undergraduate and graduate levels which are being taught by Professor Becker in his graduate-level Polymeric Biomaterials course and in lectures taught in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the introductory biomaterials curricula.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Charles E. Bouldin
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University of Akron
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