Diffusion of Protein Molecules through Microporous Nanofibrous Polyacrylonitrile Membranes

Cunyi Zhao, Yang Si, Shenghan Zhu, Kevin Bradley, Ameer Y. Taha, Tingrui Pan, Gang Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Porous nanofibrous membranes have ultrahigh specific surface areas and could be broadly employed in protein purification, enzyme immobilization, and biosensors with enhanced selectivity, sensitivity, and efficiency. However, large biomolecules, such as proteins, have hindered diffusion behavior in microporous media, significantly reducing the benefits provided by the nanofibrous membranes. The study of protein diffusion in polyacrylonitrile nanofibrous membranes produced under varied humidity and polymer concentration of electrospinning revealed that heterogeneous structures of the nanofibrous membranes possess much smaller effective pore sizes than the measured pore sizes, which significantly affects the diffusion of large molecules through the system though sizes of proteins and pH conditions also have great impacts. Only when the measured membrane pore size is at least 1000 times higher than the protein size, the diffusion behavior of the protein is predictable in the system. The results provide insights into the design and applications of proper nanofibrous materials for improved applications in protein purification and immobilizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Applied Polymer Materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • diffusion coefficient
  • effective pore size
  • microporous structure
  • nanofibrous membrane
  • partition coefficient
  • protein diffusion
  • protein-polymer interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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