Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James Zachary Hilt


The advent of numerous tools, ease of techniques, and concepts related to nanotechnology, in combination with functionalization via simple chemistry has made gold important for various biomedical applications. In this dissertation, the development and characterization of planar gold surfaces with responsive hydrogel patterns for rapid point of care sensing and the functionalization of gold nanoparticles for drug delivery are highlighted.

Biomedical micro- and nanoscale devices that are spatially functionalized with intelligent hydrogels are typically fabricated using conventional UV-lithography. Herein, precise 3-D hydrogel patterns made up of temperature responsive crosslinked poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) over gold were synthesized. The XY control of the hydrogel was achieved using microcontact printing, while thickness control was achieved using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). Atomic force microscopy analysis showed that to the ATRP reaction time governed the pattern growth. The temperature dependent swelling ratio was tailored by tuning the mesh size of the hydrogel. While nanopatterns exhibited a broad lower critical solution temperature (LCST) transition, surface roughness showed a sharp LCST transition. Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation showed rapid response behavior of the thin films, which makes them applicable as functional components in biomedical devices.

The easy synthesis, relative biocompatibility, inertness, and easy functionalization of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) have made them useful for various biomedical applications. Although ATRP can be successfully carried out over GNPs, the yield of stable solution based GNPs for biomedical applications prove to be low. As an alternative approach, a novel method of ISOlating, FUnctionalizing, and REleasing nanoparticles (ISOFURE) was proposed. Biodegradable poly(β-amino ester) hydrogels were used to synthesize ISOFURE-GNP composites. ATRP was performed inside the composite, and the final hydrogel coated GNPs were released via matrix degradation. Response analysis confirmed that the ISOFURE method led to the increased stability and yield of the hydrogel coated ISOFURE-GNPs. The ISOFURE protocol was also utilized in functionalizing GNPs with enzyme catalase in the absence of a stabilizing reagent. Biotin-streptavidin affinity was used as the bioconjugation method. Activity analysis of the conjugated enzyme showed that the ISOFURE-GNPs showed enhanced biomolecular loading relative to solution based stabilizing reagent passivated GNPs.