The Department of Biomaterials focuses on interdisciplinary research in the field of biological and biomimetic materials. The emphasis is on understanding how the mechanical or other physical properties are governed by structure and composition and how they adopt to environmental conditions. Furthermore, research on natural materials (such as bone or wood) has potential applications in many fields. First, design concepts for new materials may be improved by learning from Nature. Second, the understanding of basic mechanisms by which the structure of bone or connective tissue is optimised opens the way for studying diseases and, thus, for contributing to diagnosis and development of treatment strategies. A third option is to use structures grown by Nature and transform them by physical or chemical treatment into technically relevant materials (biotemplating). Given the complexity of natural materials, new approaches for structural characterisation are needed. Some of these are further developed in the Department, in particular for studying hierarchical structures.
The research on biomaterials is currently concentrated in seven research groups. Three groups deal with “understanding” the mechanical properties of biological materials and their adaptation to external stimulus. Three more groups concentrate on more applied goals, relating to the development of new materials, on the one hand, and to medical problems in bone research, on the other. Finally, a seventh group is dedicated to the development of a new micro-focus beamline for scanning x-ray scattering applications at the "BESSY synchrotron" in Berlin.