Nachwuchsgruppe / Junior Research Group
Bioanorganische Chemie - Biomimetik
Our research group focuses mainly on the following topics:
1. Structural and hierarchical features of biominerals and biomineralization - Biomimetic Structural Chemistry
The formation of biominerals such as bone (carbonate hydroxyapatite), nacre (calcium carbonate), sponge spicules (silica) and silica shells of diatoms and radiolaria belong to one of the most fascinating processes existing in living organisms inspiring scientists, engineers, architects and designers. Biominerals are the product of a well-orchestrated coordination between inorganic and organic materials and, ultimately, cells through a process called biomineralization. These “biocomposite materials” fulfill numerous biological purposes simultaneously displaying intricate structural features (very often hierarchical) with superior and improved properties (e.g. mechanical and/or light guiding) than their pure inorganic counterparts - sea urchin spines.vs.pure calcite or siliceous sponge spicules.vs.silica (e.g. window glass) - due to the content of “trapped” organic material, i.e., the presence of biomolecules such as proteins, polysaccharides, lipids and biopolymers that remained within the biominerals’ structure. Our research group focuses on understanding the biogenesis and skeletal development (biomineralization) of a particularly group of marine organisms. Further on, we are interested in translating this acquired knowledge – through a so-called bioinspired approach – into a technological platform that will allow us to create novel nano and macrostructures with different chemical nature and high structural complexity and simultaneously retaining the unique properties of biominerals – bioconstrutivism.
2. Biomimetic Catalysis
Biocatalysis (enzyme based-catalysis) is one of the most fundamental processes that occur in Nature. Recently, we have discovered that vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) nanoparticles can function as enzymes’ mimetics (e.g. display Michael-Menten behavior and similar action mechanism). Further, it could be used as the first bioinspired, non-toxic, self-standing (it uses and combines molecules present in the sea water), anti-biofouling material. Despite the similarity found between natural and artificial systems in terms of catalysis and mechanism, these “inorganic enzymes” still lack some sort of selectivity – an enzyme is by biochemical definition a natural and highly specialized catalyst developed towards certain reaction (or set of). Although, the rational ground has been established we are still far from being able to “construct” a “real enzyme” using inorganic-based nanostructures. We are currently interested in exploring the possibility to bring these inorganic nanosized “enzymes” into the next level of complexity.
3. Innovative Biomimetics
During the Renascence, science (in particular natural sciences) and art were considered a single discipline where knowledge would flow freely between the different areas – from physics to mathematics, chemistry, medicine philosophy, epistemology and the most diverse forms of art. As a consequence of this unbounded and unconstrained flow of ideas (today called multidisciplinarity) together with man’s will of intellectual self-development and a deep interest in understating Nature has holistic, challenging and unexplored system, this period have had significant and profound impact on the history of Mankind. Most of principles and discoveries described during this period still form the fundaments of today’s art and science (and if not still served as basis for moving a step further). However, during post-Renascence period, a certain degree knowledge compartmentalization began (it might have started with deep studies in medicine and astronomy/mathematic). This fractal-spiral growth of specific areas of knowledge – expansionist compartmentalization of science – will inner curl in the future due to the inherent incapacity of man to understand in depth so many different fields of knowledge. Moreover, this knowledge bubble-like architecture of “Sophia”, has been deeply rooted in our educational system hindering the possibility of students and young academics to bridge and bring forward new concepts and explore fundamental questions.
(letzte Änderung: 30.07.2014, 09:32 Uhr)