In a breakthrough that could lead to a new class of materials with functions found only in living systems, a research team from the lab of Ting Xu, professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering, has figured out a way to keep certain proteins active outside of the cell. The researchers used this technology to create mats that can soak up and trap chemical pollution.
Despite years of effort to stabilize proteins outside of their native environments, scientists have made limited progress in combining proteins with synthetic components like fibers without compromising protein activity. The new study shows a path toward exploiting the power of proteins outside of the cell by demonstrating a unique way to keep proteins active in synthetic environments. The materials presented in the study could enable on-demand biochemical reactions, such as in war zones or contaminated sites, where they were once not feasible.