The term "bio-systems" is used here as an abbreviation for "biomimetic and biological
systems". All bio-systems are built up from the same kind of
building blocks. In fact, these building blocks or modules form a whole
hierarchy of structures that cover a wide range of length and time scales.
The fundamental levels of this structural hierarchy are found in the
colloidal regime between nanometers and micrometers: aqueous solutions, i.e., water and ions, small water-soluble
molecules or monomers, macromolecules, supramolecular assemblies, nanostructures,
and molecular networks.
This regime is particularly interesting because it contains the transition zone
between matter and life.
Indeed, macromolecules and small supramolecular assemblies are dead objects but
somewhat larger assemblies lead to bacteria and, thus, to the simplest living
In order to understand the general principles
and mechanisms that underlie the complex and dynamic architectures of
bio-systems, one has to construct biomimetic model
systems that are accessible to both experimental and theoretical studies. This
bottom-up approach is complementary to the holistic approach of "systems biology" as
currently emphasized in the life sciences.
One general and unusual aspect of bio-systems is their selforganization, i.e., the
ability of their molecular building blocks to form larger structures "by themselves".
This selforganization starts in the experimental twilight zone
of nanometers and nanoseconds and proceeds over many length and time scales that
cannot be observed by direct imaging methods.
mechanisms underlying these "hidden dimensions of selforganization" are self-assembly of building blocks via attractive and repulsive molecular interactions as well as
force generation and transport via chemomechanical coupling.