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

  • Author / Creator
    Bezuidenhout, Louis Wentzel
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Brett, Michael J. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Harrison, D. Jed (Chemistry)
    • Westra, Ken (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    • Brett, Michael J. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    • Sit, Jeremy (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    • Sinton, David (Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria)
    • Evoy, Stephane (Electrical and Computer Engineering)