Multi-scale features in recent development of enzymic biocatalyst systems

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Functional relation among elements of different size scales in a system is probably a main challenge across the areas of the science of engineering ever since their emergence. Multi-scale time and size correlation for description and prediction of complex systems, however, has been systematically examined only recently with the aid of new computational tools. In the pursuit of efficient and sustainable chemical processing technologies, people have seen a growing emphasis on synthetic biotechnology in recent R&D efforts. In particular, industrial enzyme technologies are attracting enormous attention. Having been traditionally developed for food and detergent applications, industrial enzyme technologies are being re-examined and tested to their limits to keep abreast of the challenges in drug, biochemical, and the emerging biorenewable energy industries. Toward that, enzymes are required to function in non-conventional conditions, such as organic solvents, extreme pH, and temperatures; they also have to compete against alternative chemical technologies in terms of costs and efficiency. Accordingly, enzymic biocatalyst systems are being tackled dynamically at all size levels through efforts ranging from molecular level protein engineering and modification, nanoscale structure fabrication, and microenvironment manipulation to the construction of microchip devices and macroscopic industrial bioreactors and devices. These efforts are probably still on a case-to-case trial basis without much consideration of cross-scale correlations. Discovering, understanding, and controlling of the common features that relate functions of biocatalysts at different size scales may eventually be realized in future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Complex systems
  • Enzyme
  • Multi-scale design
  • Nanoscale science and engineering
  • Synthetic biotechnology


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