For applications as industrial biocatalysts or in sensor technologies, the immobilization of enzymes is of crucial importance, since it ensures convenient handling, such as facile separation from the product, effcient recovery and re-use, and often results in enhanced thermal and operational stability in comparison to the soluble form of the enzyme.
Polymer brushes, as carriers with a high number of functional groups, offer a promising way to immobilize enzymes in an active manner. We investigate the immobilization of model enzymes via physical adsorption to polyelectrolytes, as well as covalent coupling to functional groups along the polymer chains. The adsorbed amount, the secondary structure and the catalytic activity of the enzyme can be influenced by the degree of charging of the polyelectrolyte brush. The adsorption to mixed brushes with an additional thermoresponsive component leads to biocatalytic coatings responsive to a thermal trigger.
By combination of the biocatalytic properties of the enzyme with the responsive behaviour of the polymer brushes, novel smart biocatalytic surfaces are proposed.