Isabella Romero selected as the Kaiser-Borsari Scholarship recipient
The College of Sciences and Technology is pleased to announce that Isabella Romero is the recipient of the 2010 Kaiser-Borsari Scholarship for Women in Materials Science, a $5000 scholarship for female undergraduates performing research in materials science and engineering. Isabella Romero is a senior at Western Washington University. She is a chemistry major and plans on graduating in June 2011.
I have been working with Dr. Amanda Murphy to develop new conducting polymers that can serve as biodegradable electrodes in applications such as nerve or brain stimulation. Our materials are composed of conducting polymers and silk fibroin, a naturally derived protein-based biopolymer. Conducting polymers alone are able to deliver electrical stimuli to biological systems, but these materials are very brittle making it impossible to form durable 3D electrodes. Our solution is to develop new chemistries to bind these conducting polymers to a durable silk protein substrate with comparable mechanical properties to biological tissues, and develop a foundation for building implantable electrodes that will degrade in vivo.
During the past year, I have developed synthetic methods to selectively bind conducting polymers (such as polypyrrole) to the surface of silk films. To do this, a diazonium coupling reaction was used to attach negatively charged sulfonic acid groups to the silk protein in order to template deposition of cationic conductive polypyrrole (Ppyr) on the surface. We have also developed methods to pattern the negatively charged acid groups on silk films to template selective deposition of Ppyr only in defined regions of the film in order to create patterned circuitry on biodegradable silk substrates. Initial patterning procedures used simple stamping or painting techniques, but recently we have been experimenting with printing silk “inks” with an ink-jet printer to make smaller, well-defined patterns.