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Molecular separations using nanostructured porous thin films fabricated by glancing angle deposition Open Access


Other title
porous thin film
biomolecular separation
desorption/ionization on silicon
thin layer chromatography
nanostructured thin film
laser desorption ionization
glancing angle deposition
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bezuidenhout, Louis Wentzel
Supervisor and department
Brett, Michael J. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Sinton, David (Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria)
Evoy, Stephane (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Brett, Michael J. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Sit, Jeremy (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Harrison, D. Jed (Chemistry)
Westra, Ken (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Biomolecular separation techniques are an enabling technology that indirectly influence many aspects of our lives. Advances have led to faster analyses, reduced costs, higher specificity, and new analytical techniques, impacting areas such as health care, environmental monitoring, polymer sciences, agriculture, and nutrition. Further development of separations technology is anticipated to follow the path of computing technology such that miniaturization through the development of microfluidics technology, lab-on-a-chip systems, and other integrative, multi-component systems will further extend our analysis capabilities. Creation of new and improvement of existing separation technologies is an integral part of the pathway to miniaturized systems. The work of this thesis investigates molecular separations using porous nanostructured films fabricated by the thin film process glancing angle deposition (GLAD). Structural architecture, pore size and shape, and film density can be finely controlled to produce high-surface area thin films with engineered morphology. The characteristic size scales and structural control of GLAD films are well-suited to biomolecules and separation techniques, motivating investigation into the utility and performance of GLAD films for biomolecular separations. This project consisted of three phases. First, chromatographic separation of dye molecules on silica GLAD films was demonstrated by thin layer chromatography. Direct control of film nanostructure altered the separation characteristics; most strikingly, anisotropic structures provided two-dimensional analyte migration. Second, nanostructures made with GLAD were integrated in PDMS microfluidic channels using a sacrificial etching process; DNA molecules (10/48 kbp and 6/10/20 kbp mixtures) were electrophoretically separated on a microfluidic chip using a porous bed of silicon dioxide vertical posts. Third, mass spectrometry of proteins and drugs in the mass range of 100-1300 m/z was performed using laser desorption/ionization (LDI) on silicon GLAD films, and the influence of film thickness, porosity, structure, and substrate on performance was characterized. The application of GLAD nanostructured thin films to biomolecular separations is demonstrated and validated in this thesis. Chromatographic separation of dye molecules, electrophoretic separation of DNA molecules, and mass spectrometric isolation of small proteins and drug molecules by laser desorption ionization were demonstrated using GLAD films. All three methods yielded promising results and establish GLAD as a potential technology for biomolecular separations.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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