Understanding complex biomaterials on a fundamental physical basis is an integral challenge of future biophysical research. This challenge can be addressed by the concerted application of new experimental tools of soft condensed matter physics to living cells and bio-mimetic model systems.
In our group we concentrate on the one hand on developing new physical tools to address the underlying complexity and mechanisms and on the other hand on developing new biomaterials for applications ranging from biomedicine to functional food.
Kinetically guided colloidal structure formation
Colloidal structure formation far from equilibrium is a well-known process to self-assemble large fractal gels. We show that in this regime of quick struture formation, a multi-component system of DNA coated colloids can be kinetically tuned to create also finite sized but complex structures by rational design.
Topology and Dynamics of Actice Nematic Vesicles
We have implemented a minimalistic model of of a shape-changing cell that moves on its own. Basically our synthetic biology approach combines only a few molecular ingredients: microtubule polymers and kinesin motors are encapsulated into a vesicle by a lipid bilayer. We observe a rich variety of morphologies that can be explained by geometrical and topological effects on the nematic microtubule cortex.