Biofunctionalized nanofibrous membranes as super separators of protein and enzyme from water

Shahin Homaeigohar, Tianhe Dai, Mady Elbahri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Here, we report development of a novel biofunctionalized nanofibrous membrane which, despite its macroporous structure, is able to separate even trace amounts (as low as 2 mg/L) of biomolecules such as protein and enzyme from water with an optimum efficiency of similar to 90%. Such an extraordinary protein selectivity at this level of pollutant concentration for a nanofibrous membrane has never been reported. In the current study, poly(acrylonitrile-co-glycidyl methacrylate) (PANGMA) electrospun nanofibers are functionalized by a bovine serum albumin (BSA) protein. This membrane is extraordinarily successful in removal of BSA protein and Candida antarctica Lipase B (Cal-B) enzyme from a water based solution. Despite a negligible non-specific adsorption of both BSA and Cal-B to the PANGMA nanofibrous membrane (8%), the separation efficiency of the biofunctionalized membrane for BSA and Cal-B reaches to 88% and 81%, respectively. The optimum separation efficiency at a trace amount of protein models is due to the water-induced conformational change of the biofunctional agent. The conformational change not only exposes more functional groups available to catch the biomolecules but also leads to swelling of the nanofibers thereby a higher steric hindrance for the solutes. Besides the optimum selectivity, the biofunctionalized membranes are highly wettable thereby highly water permeable. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Electrospinning
  • Nanofibrous membrane
  • Biofunctionalization
  • Protein separation
  • Water filtration


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