Robust and Biocompatible Hybrid Matrix with Controllable Permeability for Microalgae Encapsulation

Bo Bo Zhang, Li Wang, Valérie Charles, Joanna Rooke, Bao Lian Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hybrid beads with entrapped microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were synthesized for the sustainable production of high value metabolites via photosynthesis. Encapsulating the microalgae requires an exquisite control of material properties, which has been achieved by modifying the composition (alginate, polycation, and silica). A coating of PDADMAC precluded cell leakage as indicated by the OD750 value of the culture medium, and the homogeneous distribution of silica prevented bead shrinkage from the strong electronic force of PDADMAC, resulting in a robust and biocompatible matrix for the cells. Besides fabricating suitable porous beads for the diffusion of expected metabolites, the permeability can be controlled to a certain degree by applying different molecular weights of PDADMAC. The hybrid alginate+silica/CaCl2+PDADMAC beads possessed sufficient mechanical rigidity to sheer force under constant stirring and good chemical stability to chelating agents such as sodium citrate. Moreover, the encapsulated cells exhibited excellent long-term viability and cellular functionality, which retained about 81.5% of the original value after a 120 day encapsulation as observed by microscopy and oximetry measurement. This study is not only significant for understanding the critical role of polycations and silica involved in the synthesis of hybrid beads but also important for real-scale bioengineering applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8939-8946
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2016


  • hybrid beads
  • microalgae encapsulation
  • photosynthesis
  • polycation
  • silica


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