separations

Analytical separations of protein mixtures are essential tools in nearly all areas of life science and medicine. Electrophoretic techniques (e.g. SDS-PAGE) are amongst the most common forms of analytical separations in this area. We are running a research project that aims to understand transport mechanisms to improve these separations. To do this, we are specifically focusing on the development of novel surfactant architectures. Surfactants are utilized to denature (unfold) and bind to proteins forming protein-surfactant complexes that migrate through the pores of a gel under the application of electric fields (electrophoresis). The migration speed depends strongly on the size/shape and total surface charge. Thus, the nanostructure of the complex is key to controlling electrophoretic migration and separation. In our lab, we are utilizing scattering techniques (SAXS/SANS) to systematically probe the nanostructure of a variety of protein-surfactant complexes and correlating this directly to the separation quality.