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INSTITUTE FOR BIOFUNCTIONAL POLYMER MATERIALS

Charge, Structure & Adhesion at Biointerfaces

Core Research

Ralf Zimmermann
Jens Friedrichs

New tools and methods are developed and applied to analyze and control ionic charge, molecular transport, supramolecular structure and bio-adhesion at solid/liquid interfaces.

ELECTROSURFACE ANALYSIS

Understanding electrostatic interactions of polymers in aqueous environments is key to advance biofunctional materials and interfaces. We develop and apply complementary analytical techniques and computational methods to explore mechanisms of charge formation at bio-interfaces and clarify interrelations between charge and structure of polymer materials to support, e.g., microfluidic transport and new diagnostic principles.

Microslit cell

MOLECULAR TRANSPORT AND BINDING IN GAG-BASED HYDROGELS

Hydrogels containing glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) allow for the electrostatic conjugation of morphogens suggesting their application as cell-instructive matrices in vitro and in vivo. We are working to unravel correlations between hydrogel architecture, molecular transport, and binding processes aiming at the computational design of spatiotemporally programed morphogen administration schemes.

Schematic illustration of a morphogen field to explore cellular processes in tissue formation

ADHESION AT BIO-INTERFACES

Adhesion at bio-interfaces triggers a multitude of desired and undesired processes. To effectively direct adhesive interactions, we develop and characterize materials using advanced nano- and micro-technological tools and methods. Current projects center around:

  • Nature as a blueprint for fouling-resistant surfaces
  • Amphiphilic surface coatings to prevent biofouling                                                            
Biofouling resistant surfaces based on springtail cuticle (upper panel) and polymer-functionalized Janus particles (lower image)

For more information check out our award-winning movie "The Smart Skin Pattern of Springtails"