Theory of Biologically Inspired Polymers
The goal of our research team is to bridge the fields of traditional soft matter physics, biophysics, and materials research through theoretical modeling and state-of-the-art multi-scale simulation methods. We strive to reveal the connections between form, materials properties, and biological function for a wide range of synthetic and natural soft materials in and out of equilibrium. We use this fundamental understanding to design (bio)macromolecules with tailored properties for specific applications. Topics of interest include the structure and dynamics of partially folded (bio)polymers in solution and in condensates, the self-organization of nanoparticles in crowded and confined cell-like environments, and the directed assembly of soft materials using external stimuli and internal activity.
Many biological systems are inherently multi scale, e.g., cells have sizes up to several micrometers containing a broad range of different components that are composed of macromolecules on the order of few nanometers (see figure below). Elucidating the properties of these systems requires the development of state-of-the-art in silico models that accurately capture the relevant physics while being sufficiently efficient to access the relevant length- and timescales. By leveraging our expertise in classical polymer physics, our group is at the forefront of model and algorithmic developments, paving the way for ever more realistic physics-based models.
Simulation snapshot of a biomolecular condensate formed by intrinsically disordered proteins, highlighting the multi-scale nature of the problem.