Hierarchical Structure of Biological and Bio-inspired Materials
The main goal of the research group is to understand the role of structure in biological and bio-inspired materials in view of their biological function, mechanical properties and material design. We investigate the structural arrangement of cellular, organic and mineral phases in biological tissues (e.g. bones) and synthetic hybrid materials (e.g. polymer-ceramic hybrids) with the help of high-resolution 2D and 3D imaging techniques from materials science.
In addition to the structure-property relationships, we examine dynamic processes in materials. In the case of bones, these processes involve mineralization of the organic matrix, e.g. during bone formation and healing, as well as structural changes due to mechanical loads.
Research on synthetic hybrid materials includes structural studies across the entire spectrum from purely ceramic (e.g. aerogels) to purely polymeric materials (e.g. fibers inspired by spider silk) as well as the artificial mineralization of native collagen matrices. By this, we explore possible design principles and manufacturing processes for complex materials using renewable material resources.
Our methodology mainly utilizes techniques enabling a characterization across many length scales, notably small- and wide-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS, WAXS), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), nanoindentation (NI) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).