Research Topics

Investigations of Bio-Materials

Genetic engineering of M13 bacteriophages offers opportunities for creating novel bio-nanomaterials. Phages can be engineered to recognize and bind to targeted materials, a process referred to as mineralization. In addition, the well-defined, elongated shape of M13 phages can catalyze self-assembly of ordered nanostructures in the form of layers of aligned nanoparticles; these have promising applications in energy systems, biosensors, and electronics. In this project, we study nanoparticle assembly and demonstrate that assembled phage layers can serve as templates for nucleation, growth and alignment of different inorganic nanoparticles.

Induced-Assembly of Bacteriophage Arrays Using Carbon Thin Films

Genetic engineering of M13 bacteriophages offers opportunities for creating novel bio-nanomaterials. Phages can be engineered to recognize and bind to targeted materials, a process referred to as mineralization. In addition, the well-defined, elongated shape of M13 phages can catalyze self-assembly of ordered nanostructures in the form of layers of aligned nanoparticles; these have promising applications in energy systems, biosensors, and electronics. In this project, we study nanoparticle assembly and demonstrate that assembled phage layers can serve as templates for nucleation, growth and alignment of different inorganic nanoparticles. [more]
In this project, we aim to incorporate rare earth ions into the calcite coccoliths of <em>Emiliania huxleyi</em> algae via biomineralization processes. In doing this, we want to produce a luminescent, highly-structured micromaterial which glows with a red, green or blue colour. We use, for the first time, living organisms for the generation and shape-forming of components for luminescent technical devices. <br /><br />

Luminescent materials through living microalgae

In this project, we aim to incorporate rare earth ions into the calcite coccoliths of Emiliania huxleyi algae via biomineralization processes. In doing this, we want to produce a luminescent, highly-structured micromaterial which glows with a red, green or blue colour. We use, for the first time, living organisms for the generation and shape-forming of components for luminescent technical devices.

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Teeth are an excellent example of optimally designed nanoarchitectures with precisely constructed components consisting of simple compounds. Materials properties of functional composites are generally regulated on the nanoscale, which makes their characterization particularly demanding. Using advanced analytical and imaging transmission electron microscopy techniques we identified innovative microstructural adjustments combined with astonishing compositional adaptations in incisors of coypu.

Continuous growth of rodents incisors

Teeth are an excellent example of optimally designed nanoarchitectures with precisely constructed components consisting of simple compounds. Materials properties of functional composites are generally regulated on the nanoscale, which makes their characterization particularly demanding. Using advanced analytical and imaging transmission electron microscopy techniques we identified innovative microstructural adjustments combined with astonishing compositional adaptations in incisors of coypu. [more]
Human mineralized tissues are composed of the inorganic Ca phosphate component hydroxylapatite (HA) and an organic component, mainly collagen. Structurally and chemically very complex biological HA could be described as Ca-deficient carbonate-containing apatite modified mainly with sodium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Human teeth are composed of three unique dental hard tissues – enamel (E), dentine (D), and cementum (C). Numerous dentinal tubules (DT) penetrate the dentine (D); they are surrounded by a wall of highly mineralized peritubular dentine (PD) and are separated by intertubular dentine (ID).

Nanochemistry and microsctructure of human dental tissues

Human mineralized tissues are composed of the inorganic Ca phosphate component hydroxylapatite (HA) and an organic component, mainly collagen. Structurally and chemically very complex biological HA could be described as Ca-deficient carbonate-containing apatite modified mainly with sodium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Human teeth are composed of three unique dental hard tissues – enamel (E), dentine (D), and cementum (C). Numerous dentinal tubules (DT) penetrate the dentine (D); they are surrounded by a wall of highly mineralized peritubular dentine (PD) and are separated by intertubular dentine (ID). [more]
Different types of molluscs build shells of diverse shapes and sizes, but surprisingly the mineral involved is in most cases calcium carbonate (CaCO<sub>3</sub>) mainly in the form of calcite and/or aragonite. When both polymorphs co-exist within the shell, they are always spatially separated, in different parts of the shell. The aim of our work was the investigation of inorganic-inorganic and organic-inorganic interfaces and contacts in abalone shell using a combination of bright field (BF) and annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) imaging in conjunction with electron energy-loss spectroscopy.

Interfaces in Natural Composites

Different types of molluscs build shells of diverse shapes and sizes, but surprisingly the mineral involved is in most cases calcium carbonate (CaCO3) mainly in the form of calcite and/or aragonite. When both polymorphs co-exist within the shell, they are always spatially separated, in different parts of the shell. The aim of our work was the investigation of inorganic-inorganic and organic-inorganic interfaces and contacts in abalone shell using a combination of bright field (BF) and annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) imaging in conjunction with electron energy-loss spectroscopy. [more]