Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Davita Watkins

Relational Format



Janus dendrimers are amphiphilic macromolecules that have shown promising potential in the biomedical field. Due to their unique structure and properties, these branched block copolymers have the ability to self-assemble into bioinspired spherical nanoaggregates. Because they possess a hydrophobic and hydrophilic moiety, these aggregates show potential as drug delivery systems that can transport both hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs. However, many of the proposed dendrimer systems suffer from certain weaknesses that hinder their practical usage as clinical treatment options. Some of these shortcomings include specificity, solubility, size, surface charge, and mechanical properties. To combat these problems, we synthesized and characterized a library of PAMAM-fatty acid (PAMAM-FA) hybrid Janus dendrimers that offer solutions to the issues that traditional dendrimers have. These hybrids have a cationic NH3+, an anionic COO-, and a neutral OH surface functionality on the PAMAM moiety, and they have been covalently bonded to fatty acids via click chemistry. These dendrimers show potential in biomedical applications to enhance specificity and to add biological markers to the surface of the PAMAM branches. The nanoparticles in aqueous solution were characterized using microscopy (TEM) and light scattering (DLS), and diameters ranged from 40 to 100 nm. Zeta-potential values ranged from -17.9 mV to +58.7 mV in accordance with the respective surface functionality. TEM images revealed spherical morphologies and showed critical aggregate concentrations (CAC) that ranged from 0.92 to 1.9 µmol/L. The results of our study exhibit strong evidence for the potential use of these hybrids in biomedical applications and clinical settings.

Available for download on Friday, April 23, 2021