Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Production of carrageenan fibers through electrospinning"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2013 - DURI
Research area(s):
Biomedical Engineering; Chemistry; Food Science; Life Science; Materials Engineering; Physics
Project Description:
Electrospinning is a technique that allows fabrication of submicrometer and/or nanoscale fibers. To date, most efforts have been directed toward producing synthetic polymer systems; however, biopolymer-based fibers are advantageous due to their inherent nature of biodegradability and biocompatibility. Biopolymers can be broadly classified as proteins, nucleic acids and polysaccharides. Among this set, polysaccharides are of particular interest to our group. Polysaccharides form major structural components of the walls of marine crustaceans, plants, algae and microorganisms. They have extensive group of different chemical structures and exhibit a wide variety of unique molecular structures. They constitute a large source of renewable resources offering a wide variety of beneficial functionalities to mankind, especially in the domain of biomaterials for tissue engineering, drug vehicles, and controlled release of nutraceuticals, to name a few. In particular their special properties such as renewability, biodegrability and biological activity spawn the development of potential applications. Due to their diversity and abundant availability, polysaccharides provide a range of possibilities for fiber production. There are several successful examples that include cellulose, chitosan, hyaluronic acid, dextran, pullulan and starch. However, very few studies on the preparation and characterization of carrageenan fibers, and this project aims at producing carrageenan (iota- and kappa-carrageenan) fibers through electrospinning.
Expected Student Contributions:
The DURI participant is expected to team up with the graduate student in making crystalline, well-oriented, submicron and nano fibers of carrageenans (iota- and kappa-carrageenan) through electrospinning. The intern will get exposed to several research areas such as polysaccharides fiber preparation, fiber diffraction, thermal properties of fibers using differential scanning calorimetry and solution properties of polysaccharides. The primary role of the DURI participant will be: (1) conversion of iota- and kappa-carrageenan sample to the required slat form (e.g. Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Fe3+) and preparation of carrageenan solutions of various concentrations and spin fibers in the presence of organic solvents, (2) characterization of the prepared fibers using optical microscope, capture images and measure the diameter, and (3) measuring the thermal properties using differential scanning calorimetry.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
GPA above 3.0, strong interest and commitment toward basic and applied research.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Janaswamy, Srinivas
department of food science

Student Supervisor

Srinivas Janaswamy
Research Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Jeffrey P Youngblood
School of Materials Engineering