Cholesterol's Role in Non-Adhesive Surfaces

Presentation of the 2023 Innovation Award by Dr. Valérie André, chairperson of the IPF’s Association of Supporters, and Prof. Carsten Werner, Scientific Director of the IPF, to Dr. Jens Friedrichs (left)

Dr. Jens Friedrichs and colleagues have been honored with the 2023 Innovation Award by the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden and its Association of Supporters for his work titled "Cholesterol Can Make Surfaces Non-Stick by Entropic Repulsion".

Living organisms utilize effective physical principles to regulate interfacial phenomena. Springtails (Collembola), a widely distributed group of soil-dwelling organisms, breathe through their skin and therefore need to protect it from wetting and bioadhesion. Previous studies have indicated that cholesterol, a waxy compound common in living nature, is also present in the skin of these organisms. However, the key role of cholesterol in the skin of invertebrate animals has remained elusive.

Jens Friedrichs and his team have discovered a mechanism by which cholesterol-containing surfaces can repel the adhesion of biomolecules and bacteria. This occurs through a spontaneous reorientation of cholesterol molecules on the surface, resulting in the formation of a protective barrier. The development of synthetic materials based on this principle appears promising, as they could effectively prevent the attachment of biomolecules and bacteria on various products and technologies. However, further experiments, simulations, and thermodynamic analyses are necessary to successfully transfer this natural effect into scalable and robust surface functionalizations.

Dr. Jens Friedrichs obtained his doctoral degree in Biophysics from the TUD Dresden University of Technology in 2009, focusing on the study of cell adhesion phenomena using single-cell methods. Since 2011, he has been affiliated with the IPF’s Institute of Biofunctional Polymer Materials, where his research revolves around investigating natural adhesion mechanisms and devising techniques to accurately measure and manipulate cell adhesion on structured surfaces. Since 2023, Friedrichs has been heading the "Biointerfaces" research group at the IPF.

Contact: Dr. Jens Friedrichs,

Original Paper:
Jens Friedrichs, Ralf Helbig, Julia Hilsenbeck, Prithvi Raj Pandey, Jens-Uwe Sommer, Lars David Renner, Tilo Pompe und Carsten Werner
Entropic Repulsion of Cholesterol-Containing Layers Counteracts Bioadhesion
Nature 2023,

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