Indexed on: 10 Jul '14Published on: 10 Jul '14Published in: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Electrospun membranes were studied for the chemical deactivation of threat agents by means of enzymatic proteins. Protein loading and the surface chemistry of hybrid nanofibers influenced the efficacy by which embedded enzymes could digest the substrate of interest. Bovine serum albumin (BSA), selected as a model protein, was electrospun into biologically active fibers of poly(vinyl alcohol), PVA. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were blended within these mixtures to promote protein assembly during the process of electrospinning and subsequently the ester hydrolysis of the substrates. The SWNT incorporation was shown to influence the topography of PVA/BSA nanofibers and enzymatic activity against paraoxon, a simulant for organophosphate agents and a phosphorus analogue of p-nitrophenyl acetate (PNA). The esterase activity of BSA against PNA was uncompromised upon its inclusion within nanofibrous membranes because similar amounts of PNA were hydrolyzed by BSA in solution and the electrospun BSA. However, the availability of BSA along the fiber surface was shown to affect the ester hydrolysis of paraoxon. Atomic force microscopy images of nanofibers implicated the surface migration of BSA during the electrospinning of SWNT filled dispersions, especially as greater weight fractions of protein were added to the spinning mixtures. In turn, the PVA/SWNT/BSA nanofibers outperformed the nanotube free PVA/BSA membranes in terms of paraoxon digestion. The results support the development of electrospun polymer nanofiber platforms, modulated by SWNTs for enzyme catalytic applications relevant to soldier protective ensembles.