Smart Stimuli-Responsive Polymer Membranes

Smart Stimuli-Responsive Polymer Membranes

Cascade reactions in nanoreactors acting in tandem.
Cascade reactions in nanoreactors acting in tandem.

Contrary to the macroscopic world, the engineering of integrated systems at molecular level imposes a complex scenario of requirements, especially for assembling biotic and abiotic components with the dual aim; to preserve the specific functionality of each entity, and to induce new functionalities and properties serving a final desired application.

A variety of molecular entities such as membranes, self-adapting vesicles, and biological molecules (enzymes, proteins, mimics) were used to design protein-polymer supramolecular assemblies with new functionality and improved stability. For example, nanometer size compartments that contain active compounds in their inner structures can increase the safety and efficacy of polymerization reactions and catalysis, offer protected space for cascade reactions, serve as “on demand” sources for reactive oxygen species, or provide multifunctionality as artificial organelles.

Collaborations with project groups with competences in polymer chemistry, inorganic chemistry, molecular biology, metabolic engineering and characterization methods for complex systems/reactions for a complete design and characterization of hybrid systems will be essential in the first years of this project.

The aim of this project group is to extend these activities towards development of stimuli-responsive assemblies that are hierarchically self-organized into clusters and networks with the goals of designing: i) Complex functional architectures for cascade reactions, and ii) Hybrid bio-synthetic membranes with responsive and self-adapting properties. Later, these protein-polymer clusters/networks will be integrated in complex systems with multifunctionality and controlled responsiveness to support the development of molecular factories.


M. Garni, T. Einfalt, R. Goers, C. G. PalivanW. MeierLive follow-up of enzymatic reactions inside the cavities of synthetic giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) equipped with membrane proteins mimicking cell architecture“ ACS Synth. Biol. (2018). [Link]
H. C. Schmidt, X. Guo, P. U. Richard, M. Neuburger, C. G. PalivanO. WengerMixed-valent molecular triple-deckers“ Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2018). [Link]
C. L. Draghici, V. Mikhalevich, G. Gunkel-Grabole, J. Kowal, W. MeierC. G. PalivanBiomimetic planar Polymer Membranes decorated with Enzymes as Functional Surfaces“ Langmuir (2018). [Link]
P. U. Richard, I. Craciun, J. Gaitzsch, L. Weiner, C. G. PalivanDelivery of ROS Generating Anthraquinones Using Reduction‐responsive Peptide‐based Nanoparticles“ Helv. Chim. Acta (2018). [Link]
A. Najer, C. G. Palivan, H. Beck, W. MeierChallenges in Malaria Management and a Glimpse at Some Nanotechnological Approaches“ Infectious Diseases and Nanomedicine III (2018). [Link]
T. Einfalt, D. Witzigmann, C. Edlinger, S. Sieber, R. Goers, A. Najer, M. Spulber, O. Onaca-Fischer, J. Huwyler, C. G. PalivanBiomimetic artificial organelles with in vitro and in vivo activity triggered by reduction in microenvironment“ Nat. Commun. (2018). [Link]
S. Rigo, C. Cai, G. Gunkel-Grabole, L. Maurizi, X. Zhang, J. Xu, C. G. PalivanNanoscience-Based Strategies to Engineer Antimicrobial Surfaces“ Adv. Sci. (2018). [Link]
I. Craciun, A. S. Denes, G. Gunkel-Grabole, A. Belluati, C. G. PalivanSurfaces decorated with polymeric nanocompartments for pH reporting“ Helv. Chim. Acta (2018). [Link]
A. Lanzilotto, M. Kyropoulou, E. C. Constable, C. E. HousecroftW. MeierC. G. PalivanPorphyrin-polymer nanocompartments: singlet oxygen generation and antimicrobial activity“  (2017). [Link]
C. Edlinger, T. Einfalt, M. Spulber, A. CarW. MeierC. G. PalivanBiomimetic Strategy To Reversibly Trigger Functionality of Catalytic Nanocompartments by the Insertion of pH-Responsive Biovalves“ Nano Lett. (2017). [Link]
A. Larrañaga, M. Lomora, J. R. Sarasua, C. G. Palivan, A. Pandit “Polymer capsules as micro-/nanoreactors for therapeutic applications: Current strategies to control membrane permeability“ Prog. Mater. Sci. (2017). [Link]
V. Mikhalevich, I. Craciun, M. Kyropoulou, C. G. PalivanW. MeierAmphiphilic peptide self-assembly: Expansion to hybrid materials“ Biomacromolecules (2017). [Link]
G. Gunkel-GraboleC. G. PalivanW. MeierNanostructured Surfaces through Immobilization of Self-Assembled Polymer Architectures Using Thiol–Ene Chemistry“ Macromol. Mater. Eng. 302, 1600363 (2017). [Link]
M. Garni, S. Thamboo, C. Schoenenberger, C. G. PalivanBiopores/membrane proteins in synthetic polymer membranes“ Biochim. Biophys. Acta, Biomembr. 1859, 619-38 (2017). [Link]
I. Craciun, G. Gunkel-Grabole, A. Belluati, C. G. PalivanW. MeierExpanding the potential of MRI contrast agents through multifunctional polymeric nanocarriers“ Nanomedicine 12, 811-17 (2017). [Link]
N. ChuardS. MatileW. MeierC. G. PalivanStrain-Promoted Thiol-Mediated Cellular Uptake of Giant Substrates: Liposomes and Polymersomes“ Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 56, 2947-50 (2017). [Link]
J. Liu, V. Postupalenko, S. Lörcher, D. Wu, M. Chami, W. MeierC. G. PalivanDNA-Mediated Self-Organization of Polymeric Nanocompartments Leads to Interconnected Artificial Organelles“ Nano Lett., DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b03430 (2016). [Link] [More Information]
D. Vasquez, T. Einfalt, W. MeierC. G. PalivanAsymmetric Triblock Copolymer Nanocarriers for Controlled Localization and pH-Sensitive Release of Proteins“ Langmuir 32, 10235-43 (2016). [Link]
S. J. Sigg, F. Santini, A. Najer, P. U. Richard, W. MeierC. G. PalivanNanoparticle-based highly sensitive MRI contrast agents with enhanced relaxivity in reductive milieu“ Chem. Commun. 52, 9937-40 (2016). [Link]
A. Najer, D. Wu, M. G. Nussbaumer, G. Schwertz, A. Schwab, M. C. Witschel, A. Schäfer, F. Diederich, M. Rottmann, C. G. Palivan, H. Beck, W. MeierAn amphiphilic graft copolymer-based nanoparticle platform for reduction-responsive anticancer and antimalarial drug delivery“ Nanoscale, DOI: 10.1039/C6NR04290B (2016). [Link]
Y. CotelleN. Chuard, S. Lascano, V. Lebrun, R. Wehlauch, N. Bohni, S. Lörcher, V. Postupalenko, S. ReddyW. MeierC. G. Palivan, K. Gademann, T. R. WardS. MatileInterfacing Functional Systems“ Chimia 6, 418 (2016). [Link]
C. E. HousecroftC. G. Palivan, K. Gademann, W. Meier, M. Calame, V. Mikhalevich, X. Zhang, E. PielM. SzponarskiA. WieslerA. Lanzilotto, E. C. Constable, A. Fanget, R. Stoop “‘Active surfaces’ as Possible Functional Systems in Detection and Chemical (Bio) Reactivity“ Chimia 6, 402 (2016). [Link]
M. Garni, T. Einfalt, M. Lomora, A. CarW. MeierC. G. PalivanArtificial Organelles: Reactions inside Protein–Polymer Supramolecular Assemblies“ Chimia 6, 424 (2016). [Link]
V. Mikhalevich, C. Zelmer, A. CarC. G. PalivanW. MeierBio-inspired Polymer Membranes“ Bio-inspired Polymers 22, 221-58 (2016). [Link]
I. A. Dinu, J. T. Duskey, A. CarC. G. PalivanW. MeierEngineered non-toxic cationic nanocarriers with photo-triggered slow-release properties“ Polym. Chem. 7, 3451 (2016). [Link]
A. Najer, S. Thamboo, C. G. Palivan, H. Beck, W. MeierGiant Host Red Blood Cell Membrane Mimicking Polymersomes Bind Parasite Proteins and Malaria Parasites“ Chimia 4, 288 (2016). [Link]
S. J. Sigg, V. Postupalenko, J. T. Duskey, C. G. PalivanW. MeierStimuli-Responsive Codelivery of Oligonucleotides and Drugs by Self-Assembled Peptide Nanoparticles“ Biomacromolecules 17, 935-45 (2016). [Link]
X. Zhang, M. Lomora, T. Einfalt, W. Meier, N. Klein, D. Schneider, C. G. PalivanActive surfaces engineered by immobilizing protein-polymer nanoreactors for selectively detecting sugar alcohols“ Biomaterials 89, 79 (2016). [Link]
G. Gunkel-GraboleA. Car, V. V. Naik, L. Marot, G. Ferk, C. G. PalivanW. MeierPEG Brushes on Porous, PDMS-Coated Surfaces and Their Interaction with Carbon Dioxide“ Macromol. Chem. Phys. 217, 966 (2016). [Link]
H. C. Schmidt, M. Spulber, M. Neuburger, C. G. Palivan, M. Meuwly, O. WengerCharge Transfer Pathways in Three Isomers of Naphthalene-Bridged Organic Mixed Valence Compounds“ J. Org. Chem. 81, 595-602 (2016). [Link]
C. G. Palivan, R. Goers, A. Najer, X. Zhang, A. CarW. MeierBioinspired polymer vesicles and membranes for biological and medical applications“ Chem. Soc. Rev. 45, 377 (2015). [Link]
A. Najer, S. Thamboo, J. T. Duskey, W. MeierC. G. PalivanAnalysis of Molecular Parameters Determining the Antimalarial Activity of Polymer-Based Nanomimics“ Macromol. Rapid Commun. 36, 1923 (2015). [Link]
T. Einfalt, R. Goers, I. A. Dinu, A. Najer, M. Spulber, O. Onaca-Fischer, C. G. PalivanStimuli-triggered activity of nano reactors by biomimetic engineering polymer membranes“ Nano Lett. 15, 7596 (2015). [Link] [More Information]
M. Lomora, I. A. Dinu, F. Itel, S. Rigo, M. Spulber, C. G. PalivanDoes Membrane Thickness Affect the Transport of Selective Ions Mediated by Ionophores in Synthetic Membranes?“ Macromol. Rapid Commun. 36, 1929 (2015). [Link]
J. Liu, V. Postupalenko, J. T. Duskey, C. G. PalivanW. MeierV. MikhalevichpH-Triggered Reversible Multiple Protein-Polymer Conjugation Based on Molecular Recognition“ J. Chem. Phys. B. 119, 12066 (2015). [Link]
T. Einfalt, G. Gunkel-Grabole, M. Spulber, A. Najer, C. G. PalivanSupramolecular Architectures: Supramolecular Architectures from Self-Assembled Copolymers“ CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology, 1055-72 (2015). [Link]
G. Tsiavaliaris, F. Itel, K. Hedfalk, S. Al-Samir, W. Meier, G. Gros, V. Endeward “Low CO2 permeability of cholesterol-containing liposomes detected by stopped-flow fluorescence spectroscopy“ FASEB J. 29, 1780 (2015). [Link]
F. Itel, A. Najer, C. G. PalivanW. MeierDynamics of Membrane Proteins within Synthetic Polymer Membranes with Large Hydrophobic Mismatch“ Nano Lett. 15, 3871 (2015). [Link] [More Information] [Artikel in ChimieXtra]
J. Kowal, D. Wu, V. MikhalevichC. G. PalivanW. MeierHybrid Polymer–Lipid Films as Platforms for Directed Membrane Protein Insertion“ Langmuir 31, 4868 (2015). [Link]
M. Lomora, M. Garni, F. Itel, P. Tanner, M. Spulber, C. G. PalivanPolymersomes with engineered ion selective permeability as stimuli-responsive nanocompartments with preserved architecture“ Biomaterials 53, 406 (2015). [Link]
M. Lomora, I. A. Dinu, C. G. PalivanSelective ion-permeable membranes by insertion of biopores into polymersomes“ Phys. Chem. 17, 15538 (2015). [Link]
M. Spulber, P. Baumann, J. Liu, C. G. PalivanCeria loaded nanoreactors: a nontoxic superantioxidant system with high stability and efficacy“ Nanoscale 7, 1411 (2015). [Link]
G. Gunkel-Grabole, S. Sigg, M. Lomora, S. Lörcher, C. G. PalivanW. MeierPolymeric 3D nano-architectures for transport and delivery of therapeutically relevant biomacromolecules“ Biomater. Sci. 2, 25 (2015). [Link]
A. Najer, D. Wu, A. Bieri, F. Brand, C. G. Palivan, H. P. Beck, W. MeierNanomimics of Host Cell Membranes Block Invasion and Expose Invasive Malaria Parasites“ ACS Nano 8, 12560 (2014). [Link] [More Information]
D. Wu, M. Spulber, F. Itel, M. Chami, T. Pfohl, C. G. PalivanW. MeierEffect of Molecular Parameters on the Architecture and Membrane Properties of 3D Assemblies of Amphiphilic Copolymers“ Macromolecules 47, 5060-69 (2014). [Link]
P. Baumann, M. Spulber, I. A. Dinu, C. G. PalivanCellular Trojan Horse Based Polymer Nanoreactors with Light-sensitive Activity“ J. Phys. Chem. B 118, 9361 (2014). [Link]

Project Leader

Cornelia G. Palivan

Persons involved



A variety of active blocks serving to engineer and characterize the complex functional architectures for cascade reactions, and hybrid bio-synthetic membranes with responsive and self-adapting properties, will be developed in collaboration with projects led by Michel CalameCatherine Housecroft., Wolfgang MeierStefan MatileFrancesco StellacciRichard Kammerer, Roderick Lim, and Yaakov Benenson


Read more about the Palivan-Group here.