Sustainable molecular and chemical engineering of soft and hard materials.
Sustainable molecular and chemical engineering of soft and hard materials.

Project keywords

Biosurfactants, Nanoemulsions, Nanocapsules, Microfluidics, Antibiotics, Drug delivery, Sustained release, Stimuli-responsive, Nanomaterials, Nanobiotechnology, Health, Materials, Sustainability

Project summary

A sustainable future demands new sustainable technology able to make soft and hard materials. We have been working on the development of soft and hard materials through designing new biomolecules (peptides and proteins) and developing new green platform technologies. A number of novel technologies have been developed in Prof. Anton Middelberg's lab.

(1) Emulsion and biomimetic dual-templating technology for making silica capsules for controlled and sustained release. This technology is based on the novel design of bifunctional peptides or proteins by modularizing a surface active peptide or protein sequence with a sequence having biosilisification activity, thus achieving the formation of stable nanoemulsions followed by the nucleation and growth of silica shell at the oil–water interface under benign conditions. This technology represents a new strategy for forming core-shell nanomaterials using sustainable technology, opening opportunities for further applications in biomedical and agricultural domains, such as slow release of active components, drug delivery with sustained release and slow release of antigens for single-dose vaccines.

(2) Stimuli-responsive soft materials based on biomolecules manufactured from renewable resources. Prof. Anton Middelberg's group has led the way internationally in developing new stimuli-responsive foam/emulsion-control technology, relying on peptides or proteins that self-assemble at the air-water or oil-water interface to create a mechanically-strong layer that can be dissipated reversibly by a pH trigger. Protein or peptide-based biosurfactants offer process and design advantages such as ‘switchability’ and ‘tailorability’, for example tailorable nanoemulsions for drug and vaccine delivery.

(3) Simple and low-cost platform technology for producing bioproducts, including peptide or protein biosurfactants, peptide antibiotics. A novel and scalable purification method has been developed for a microbially-produced functional biosurfactant protein. This technology can be extended for other valuable proteins, as well as for fusions of this protein with other valuable peptides or proteins.

(4) Microfluidic synthesis of hierarchical materials for applications in sustained and controlled drug release. We have developed microfluidic approaches for making simple and complex emulsions, hollow spheres and hierarchical particles with unique structure and surface morphology, which have great potential in drug delivery and controlled release.

Project contacts

Lead investigator Chun-Xia Zhao
Contact email


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