Supramolecular Self-Organization in Biology and Biotechnology
The self-organization of molecules into dynamic and hierarchical supramolecular assemblies is a key feature of biological structures. The resulting architectures exhibit new qualities that are distinct from those that characterize its individual components. Our group is particularly interested in two types of assemblies: lipid membranes and the gel-like, polysaccharide-rich coats as they surround many cells.
For a thorough investigation of the physical principles underlying the structure and function of these architectures, it is desirable to move from living cells with their complex dynamics to well-controlled models with tunable complexity. We create such model systems on solid supports. Modern techniques of surface nanostructuration and biofunctionalization are employed to guide the assembly down to the nanometer-scale.
For the characterization of such model systems, we develop and use a toolbox of biophysical in situ characterization techniques, including quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), atomic force microscopy (AFM), reflection interference contrast microscopy (RICM), ellipsometry and fluorescence methods.
We employ the created structures as specialized sensor platforms and for the control of cellular fate.
Examples of ongoing and previous work