Biopolymers are naturally occurring macromolecules composed of repeating subunits. This ubiquitous family of polymers possess a great variety of structural compositions and material properties. Nucleic acid materials like DNA and RNA are biopolymers composed of repeated nucleotide subunits. Amino acid subunits polymerize to form polypeptides, which adopt biologically-active conformations to become proteins.
We are particularly interested in a class of biopolymers known as polysaccharides. These carbohydrate materials are made of sugar ring subunits, linked together by covalent glycosidic bonds in branched or linear chains These biopolymers are found in great abundance in nature in the forms of starch and cellulose.
Our research focuses on engineering materials using polysaccharides such as chitin/chitosan, alginate, heparin, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid. In particular, we process these materials into thin films and fibers.