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Carbohydrate Materials Discovery: Towards a Post-Cellulosic Future


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Carbohydrates could provide attractive solutions to critical energy, defense, and material challenges because they are abundant, naturally sourced, and renewable. Despite these attributes, carbohydrates remain relatively unexplored as feedstock for advanced materials or inthe context of nanotechnology because of the difficulty inherent to determining their superstructure, studying their recognition, and in preparing even simple oligosaccharides. To realize the full potential of carbohydrates as feedstock for advanced materials and nanotechnologies, the means by which carbohydrate binding and assembly are studied must be reevaluated entirely. To this end, we have developed a new class of carbohydrate receptors termed the Bear Paw Dimers that recognize non-glucosidic monosaccharides by accessingbiomimetic binding modes, and thereby achieve high affinities at biologically-relevant solvents and temperatures. Moreover, because of the modularity of this scaffold, its molecular structure can be manipulated easily to test new hypotheses regarding fundamental aspects of glycan-binding. In addition, a new platform the glycopolymer-modified plasmon field effect transistor has been used to study binding in an environment intended to recreate the glycan density and presentation common to biological interfaces, and this platform has the most sensitive detection limit for carbohydrate binding proteins yet reported as a result of the combination of cooperative, multivalent binding and amplified electrical output. Future efforts will be devoted to (1) expanding the scope of novel carbohydrate binders, (2) multiplexing the glycopolymer-modified plasmon field effect transistor for combinatorial studies, and (3) perturbing the assembly of hierchica carbohydrate materials.



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