Charging & Structure Formation at Biointerfaces
to analyze and control ionic charge, supramolecular structure and bioadhesion
Unravelling charge formation at bio-interfaces in aqueous electrolyte solutions as well as the interplay between ionisation and structure of polymers at interfaces is an important prerequisite for the rational design of biomimetic materials and the development of advanced bioanalytical tools and methods, such as lab-on-a-chip devices.
The design of surfaces or interfaces compatible with biological entities requires a detailed understanding of basic physicochemical interactions responsible for structure formation at surfaces. In particular wetting, dewetting and self-assembly processes at surfaces including crystallization are addressed.
to explore blood-materials interactions and develop new strategies for anticoagulant coatings
The prevention of coagulation processes and immune reactions at the interface of blood to biomaterials is a demanding requirement to enhance the hemocompatibility of biomedical products (e.g. cardiovascular implants, catheters, medical membranes). With this objective strategies for coating technologies are being developed, utilizing synthetic or naturally occurring inhibitors for the functionalisation of surfaces. Systematic analyses of the interaction of human whole blood with model substrates serve to clarify the molecular and physical-chemical factors, which trigger the humoral and cellular immune defense. These analyses further support the development of blood-compatible polymer coatings by quantifying the inhibitory effect of immobilized substances.
to design and apply polymer matrices for regenerative therapies
Polymer matrices with temporally and spatially tuned cell signalling characteristics are developed for in vitro or in vivo tissue engineering. For this purpose, the physical and molecular stimuli of cellular microenvironments are systematically imitated using reconstituted biopolymer assemblies (consisting of collagen I, fibronectin, and other components of the extracellular matrix), supported lipid bilayer membranes, as well as synthetic and biohybrid hydrogels. Several projects are aimed towards the utilization of stem cells in new therapeutic strategies by creating combinations of exogenic signals for the control of self-renewal and differentiation of these cells the stem cell niche. Accordingly, the molecular understanding of cell-matrix adhesion, the effect of physical stimuli (micro- and nanostructure, elasticity of matrices), and biomolecular cues (chemokines and growth factors) are prioritized research tasks.