Professor Nico Bruns

Visiting Professor

Pure and Applied Chemistry

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Personal statement

Synthetic polymers have contributed to many innovations in all aspects of modern life. Significant progress has been made in synthetic methods to obtain functional polymers, in the fabrication of polymeric nanostructures and in the fundamental understanding of their physicochemical properties. However, compared to the properties and functions of nature’s macromolecules, even the most sophisticated synthetic polymers still appear to be simple and only offer comparably basic functionality. Proteins are fascinating macromolecules, particularly from a polymer chemist’s point of view. The vast variety of functions that proteins can fulfill is not seen in any synthetic material. Enzymes for example act as catalysts, while other proteins fluoresce or control transport across cell membranes. Moreover, certain proteins can self-assemble into nanocontainers and nanoreactors. All these functions are essential molecular mechanisms, enabling life and rendering living tissue responsive and adaptive. My research encompasses an interdisciplinary, bio-inspired approach that combines polymer chemistry and protein engineering to create new opportunities for the sustainable synthesis of polymers and to design, engineer and realize materials and nanosytems with unprecedented new functions. Examples are the use of enzymes as catalysts for atom transfer radical polymerizations, to develop polymer- and protein-based nanoreactors for enzymatic reactions, and to use proteins as force-responsive sensor molecules in fiber-reinforced composite materials. For further information, please visit: http://ami.swiss/en/groups/macromolecular-chemistry/

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Publications

Mechanically triggered on-demand degradation of polymers synthesized by radical polymerizations
Liu Peng, Jimaja Sètuhn, Immel Stefan, Thomas Christoph, Mayer Michael, Weder Christoph, Bruns Nico
Nature Chemistry Vol 16, pp. 1184-1192 (2024)
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41557-024-01508-x
Large-area, self-healing block copolymer membranes for energy conversion
Sproncken Christian C M, Liu Peng, Monney Justin, Fall William S, Pierucci Carolina, Scholten Philip B V, Van Bueren Brian, Penedo Marcos, Fantner Georg Ernest, Wensink Henricus H, Steiner Ullrich, Weder Christoph, Bruns Nico, Mayer Michael, Ianiro Alessandro
Nature Vol 630, pp. 866-871 (2024)
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-024-07481-2
Microfluidically produced microcapsules with amphiphilic polymer conetwork shells
Velasquez Sara T R, Belluati Andrea, Tervoort Elena, Mattich Iacopo, Hertel Brigitte, Russell Sam, Gouveia Micael G, Grysan Patrick, Mugemana Clément, Studart André R, Bruns Nico
Advanced Materials Technologies Vol 9, pp. 1-13 (2024)
https://doi.org/10.1002/admt.202400109
Artificial cell synthesis using biocatalytic polymerization-induced self-assembly
Belluati Andrea, Jimaja Sètuhn, Chadwick Robert J, Glynn Christopher, Chami Mohamed, Happel Dominic, Guo Chao, Kolmar Harald, Bruns Nico
Nature Chemistry Vol 16, pp. 564-574 (2024)
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41557-023-01391-y
Self-decorating cells via surface-initiated enzymatic controlled radical polymerization
Belluati Andrea, Happel Dominic, Erbe Malte, Kirchner Nicole, Szelwicka Anna, Bloch Adrian, Berner Valeria, Christmann Andreas, Hertel Brigitte, Pardehkhorram Raheleh, Reyhani Amin, Kolmar Harald, Bruns Nico
Nanoscale Vol 15, pp. 19486-19492 (2023)
https://doi.org/10.1039/D3NR04008A
Visible light-responsive materials : the (photo)chemistry and applications of donor–acceptor Stenhouse adducts in polymer science
Clerc Michèle, Sandlass Sara, Rifaie-Graham Omar, Peterson Julie A, Bruns Nico, Read de Alaniz Javier, Boesel Luciano F
Chemical Society Reviews Vol 52, pp. 8245-8294 (2023)
https://doi.org/10.1039/D3CS00508A

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Research Interests

Synthetic polymers have contributed to many innovations in all aspects of modern life. Significant progress has been made in synthetic methods to obtain functional polymers, in the fabrication of polymeric nanostructures and in the fundamental understanding of their physicochemical properties. However, compared to the properties and functions of nature’s macromolecules, even the most sophisticated synthetic polymers still appear to be simple and only offer comparably basic functionality. Proteins are fascinating macromolecules, particularly from a polymer chemist’s point of view. The vast variety of functions that proteins can fulfill is not seen in any synthetic material. Enzymes for example act as catalysts, while other proteins fluoresce or control transport across cell membranes. Moreover, certain proteins can self-assemble into nanocontainers and nanoreactors. All these functions are essential molecular mechanisms that enable life and render living tissue responsive and adaptive.

My research encompasses an interdisciplinary, bio-inspired approach that combines polymer chemistry and protein engineering to create new opportunities for the sustainable synthesis of polymers and to design, engineer and realize materials and nanosytems with unprecedented new functions. Examples are the use of enzymes as catalysts for atom transfer radical polymerizations, the use of biocatalysis for malaria diagnostics, to develop polymersome- and protein-based nanoreactors for enzymatic reactions, and to use proteins as force-responsive sensor molecules in fiber-reinforced composite materials.

 

Group Webpage:

For further information, please visit:

https://bruns-lab.com/

 

Selected Publications:

  1. Rifaie-Graham, O.; Pollard, J.; Raccio, S.; Balog, S.; Rusch, S.; Hernández-Castañeda, M. A.; Mantel, P.-Y.; Beck, H.-P.; Bruns, N., Hemozoin-catalyzed precipitation polymerization as an assay for malaria diagnosis. Nature Commun. 2019, 10, 1369. Link
  2. Rifaie-Graham, O.; Ulrich, S.; Galensowske, N. F. B.; Balog, S.; Chami, M.; Rentsch, D.; Hemmer, J. R.; Read de Alaniz, J.; Boesel, L. F.; Bruns, N., Wavelength-Selective Light-Responsive DASA-Functionalized Polymersome Nanoreactors. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 8027-8036. Link
  3. Rother, M.; Barmettler, J.; Reichmuth, A.; Araujo, J. V.; Rytka, C.; Glaied, O.; Pieles, U.; Bruns, N., Self-Sealing and Puncture Resistant Breathable Membranes for Water-Evaporation Applications. Adv. Mater. 2015, 27, 6620-6624. Link
  4. Renggli, K.; Nussbaumer, M. G.; Urbani, R.; Pfohl, T.; Bruns, N., A Chaperonin as Protein Nanoreactor for Atom-Transfer Radical Polymerization. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 1443-1447. Link
  5. Silva, T. B.; Spulber, M.; Kocik, M. K.; Seidi, F.; Charan, H.; Rother, M.; Sigg, S. J.; Renggli, K.; Kali, G.; Bruns, N., Hemoglobin and Red Blood Cells Catalyze Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. Biomacromolecules 2013, 14, 2703-2712. Link
  6. Sigg, S. J.; Seidi, F.; Renggli, K.; Silva, T. B.; Kali, G.; Bruns, N., Horseradish Peroxidase as a Catalyst for Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. Macromol. Rapid Commun. 2011, 32, 1710-1715. Link

      

Projects

Multiscale Metrology Suite for Next-generation Healthcare Technologies (EPSRC Strategic Equipment)
Rattray, Zahra (Principal Investigator) Bruns, Nico (Co-investigator) Faulds, Karen (Co-investigator) Graham, Duncan (Co-investigator) Halbert, Gavin (Co-investigator) Hoskins, Clare (Co-investigator) McArthur, Stephen (Co-investigator) Perrie, Yvonne (Co-investigator) Reid, Stuart (Co-investigator) Seib, Philipp (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2024
Polymeric Membranes for Artificial Endosymbionts (H2020-MSCA-IF-2020 - Andrea Belluati)
Bruns, Nico (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2023
Intracellular Controlled Radical Polymerizations
Bruns, Nico (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2023
Aqueous gel permeation chromatography / size exclusion chromatography
Bruns, Nico (Principal Investigator) Cormack, Peter (Principal Investigator)
PSS SECurity2 with autosampler, refractive index detector, variable wavelength UV-VIS detector, Multichrom Light Scattering Detector
01-Jan-2021
Aqueous Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) / Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC)
Bruns, Nico (Principal Investigator) Cormack, Peter (Principal Investigator)
PSS SECurity2 chromatography system with autosampler, refractive index detector, variable wavelength UV-VIS detector, and multichrom light scattering detector
01-Jan-2021
Plant Inspired Materials and Surfaces (PLAMATSU) MCSA ITN
Bruns, Nico (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2020

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Contact

Professor Nico Bruns
Visiting Professor
Pure and Applied Chemistry

Email: nico.bruns@strath.ac.uk
Tel: Unlisted