Nanostructure and Function of Biomaterials



P. Werner

Biomineralization describes the natural processes by which living organisms use bioorganic and inorganic materials to build composite materials that are highly ordered ranging from nano to the macroscopic scale. This unique hierarchical structure including heterostructures of biominerals and organic compounds, e.g. enzyme molecules, make biominerals much stronger than their geological counterparts, while remaining as single crystal. We investigate these biogenic structures to elucidating their structure-property relationships.

By applying electron microscopical techniques (e.g., TEM, STEM, CBED, chemical analysis) we want to look into the molecular interactions occurring, e.g., at the interfaces between the inorganic mineral and the macromolecular organic matrix and, thereby investigating the mechanism of how does the macromolecular organic matrix regulate the biominerals’ growth.

These investigations are carried out in a close cooperation with the department of Prof. Fratzl at the MPI of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam.

Fig. 1: SEM picture of the central spicule of the deep sea sponge “Monorhaphis Chuni”. Its inner structure consists of up to 400 concentric silica lamellae, which is the reason for the extreme stiffness of this glass spicule.

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