Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Bio-nano supraparticles for enzyme stabilization

Technology #6103

Enzymes, which are proteins, are large organic molecules that catalyze biochemical reactions with great specificity. Using enzymes lowers the consumption of energy in chemical reactions. Enzymes are used for many different applications in different industries, ranging from detergent formulations and wastewater treatment to the production of ethanol and the development of new pharmaceutical products. In 2010, the global market for industrial enzymes was estimated to have a total value exceeding $3.3 billion, and it is projected to grow to a value of more than $4.5 billion by 2015.

Stabilizing enzymes presents a tremendous challenge in the chemical and biochemical industry. The effectiveness of enzymes can be hindered by the loss of stability due to changes in temperature, pH, and other environmental conditions. Loss of stability leads to enzyme denaturalization and loss of catalytic activity. New technologies that keep enzymes active at a range of different conditions are needed to ensure their efficient use in industrial settings, as well as to ensure the effectiveness and longevity of products that use them.

Terminal assemblies of enzymes and nanoparticles for enzyme stabilization

Nanoparticles form spontaneous self-assemblies with proteins and enzymes that are called supraparticles. These assemblies can form from any protein and nanoparticle combination given the right conditions. Supraparticles were shown to maintain the stability of the proteins by keeping them in a folded state in the confines of the new hybrid structure. Thus, supraparticles present a viable option for enzyme stabilization. Such systems also lend themselves to the integration of the optical and electric properties of metallic and semiconducting nanoparticles with the biological function of enzymes. Supraparticles that combined cadmium telluride nanoparticles with Cytochrome C protein, as well as a redox enzyme and a sacrificial electron donor, were not only stable but showed impressive photoenzymatic activity when irradiated with light. In the future, these kinds of materials could be used for solar fuel production.


  • Increased enzyme stability can lead to the formulation of better detergents, fabric treatments, drugs, etc.
  • Photoenzymatic materials


  • Supraparticle synthesis is very simple and low-cost
  • Particles can be used under many different conditions, including high temperature.