Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Physics - (Ph.D.)

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Cristiano L. Dias

Second Advisor

John Francis Federici

Third Advisor

Gordon A. Thomas

Fourth Advisor

Luis R. Cruz-Cruz

Fifth Advisor

Yong Ick Kim

Abstract

The function of a protein is determined by its three-dimensional structure which emerges from the delicate balance of forces involving atoms of the protein and the solvent. This balance can be perturbed by changing temperature, pressure, pH and by adding organic molecules known as cosolvents to the solution. Despite the wide use of cosolvents to perturb protein structures in the lab and in living systems, their molecular mechanisms are still not well established. Understanding these mechanisms is a problem of substantial interest, with potential application to the design of new drugs to target proteins. In this dissertation, we probe the role of two major cosolvents, urea and trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) at atomic level.

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