Utilising inherent properties of biopolymer mixtures for the structural designing of complex systems

Published on
July 29, 2022

Biopolymer mixtures are readily available in nature. Utilising their intrinsic potential to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation is an energy-efficient process. The Oparin-Haldabe theory believes that the first life took shape in a coacervate system in the oceans due to their natural self-assembly properties.

Multicomponent biopolymer systems often experience associative and segregative phase separation where the system can follow either of the pathways fractionating in a polymer-dense and polymer-poor phases spontaneously. Coacervates, as coined by a Dutch chemist in 1929, are an intermediate stage between single-phase and phase-separated systems that are affected by numerous variables while holding properties of a macrophase-separated system. Electrostatic forces, bulk and net charges, and biopolymer concentration play a significant role, among others, in such a process of self-assembly.

Research questions (Thesis areas):

  • Develop an understanding of how altering charge densities affect the phase separation process and evaluate the system reversibility.
  • Impact of thermal energy and diffusion on the condensate systems for the formation of irreversible covalent linkages to form microcapsules or hydrogels.
  • Designing an emulsifier for mickering emulsions for adhesives, colloidal gels and encapsulation.
  • Studying rheology, interfacial stabilisation and wetting kinetics of biopolymer complexes.

Read more about past students, experimental details, methods and approach: Biopolymer group.

The topic is open to both - BSc and MSc students. Don't hesitate to contact me for a detailed topic discussion and thesis scope at: or LinkedIn.

Additional possibilities: We also work on a collaboration project with Dr Siddharth Deshpande's group (PCC) Emergent Biological Systems.