Investigating polymer-peptide conjugates and electrospinning for the production of advanced materials

  • Arun Sohdi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis describes the production of advanced materials comprising a wide array of polymer-based building blocks. These materials include bio-hybrid
polymer-peptide conjugates, based on phenylalanine and poly(ethylene oxide), and polymers with intrinsic microporosity (PIMs).
Polymer-peptides conjugates were previously synthesised using click
chemistry. Due to the inherent disadvantages of the reported synthesis, a new, simpler, inexpensive protocol was sought. Three synthetic methods based on amidation chemistry were investigated for both oligopeptide and polymerpeptide coupling. The resulting conjugates produced were then assessed by various analytical techniques, and the new synthesis was compared with the
established protocol. An investigation was also carried out focussing on polymer-peptide coupling via ester chemistry, involving deprotection of the
carboxyl terminus of the peptide.
Polymer-peptide conjugates were also assessed for their propensity to
self-assemble into thixotropic gels in an array of solvent mixtures.
Determination of the rules governing this particular self-assembly (gelation) was
required. Initial work suggested that at least four phenylalanine peptide units were necessary for self-assembly, due to favourable hydrogen bond interactions. Quantitative analysis was carried out using three analytical
techniques (namely rheology, FTIR, and confocal microscopy) to probe the microstructure of the material and provided further information on the conditions for self-assembly.
Several polymers were electrospun in order to produce nanofibres. These included novel materials such as PIMs and the aforementioned bio-hybrid conjugates. An investigation of the parameters governing successful fibre production was carried out for PIMs, polymer-peptide conjugates, and for nanoparticle cages coupled to a polymer scaffold. SEM analysis was carried out on all material produced during these electrospinning experiments.
Date of Award20 Feb 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPaul Topham (Supervisor) & Brian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • Self-assembly
  • hydrogel
  • phenylalanine
  • poly(ethylene oxide)
  • thixotropic

Cite this