The focus of the Institute of Biologically inspired materials (BIMat), headed by Univ. Prof. Erik Reimhult, is on developing nanomaterial science for application to biological and medical problems and to create novel “smart” materials and structures inspired by assembly principles observed in biological systems. The basis for this research is that a thorough control and understanding of the chemical and physical properties of mostly nanoscale building blocks on multiple length scales is necessary in order to investigate and utilize the governing principles of assembly into both biological and bioinspired superstructures. Thus, we aim to understand and control those properties, from molecular groups at interfaces, to molecular monolayers, with particular focus on interfacial polymers; from the colloidal properties of nanoparticles to the long-range interactions of particle assemblies and cells at interfaces, with particular focus on lipid membranes and other liquid-liquid interfaces.
The methodological concepts we employ to reach this aim have three main pillars:
- to build up the molecular interface of nanoscale building blocks to control their colloidal stability and interactions, as well as biological interactions using bioinspired ligands and assembly techniques;
- to use the bioinspired methods of molecular and particle assembly at fluid interfaces, which allows exploration of minimum energy configurations and exploitation of the unique possibilities offered by self-organization to reversibly control material structures and through that affect and change function;
- engineering the interfacial properties of biological nanoscale building blocks through molecular biology to study their interactions in model and biological systems.
At our disposal are a range of synthetic and biological building blocks, of which core-shell nanoparticles, so-called patchy colloids, liquid interfaces, bacteria and bacteria membranes are at the center.
BIMat supports the idea that teaching at a university should be based on the expertise of its researchers. We therefore aim at an increasing contribution to the teaching portfolio at the BOKU, with particular focus on master level courses that match the training required of students in modern biomaterials. The courses offered by BIMat therefore are meant to be an integral part of the Biotechnology Master Schwerpunkt in Nanobiotechnology. How the courses in this Schwerpunkt are meant to interlink with the free credit courses offered by the department can be found in this pdf.
We aim to increase the level of all students in our study programs in the basic topics necessary for successful studies in disciplines related to our department such as: physical chemistry, surface science and biophysics. We also strive to provide advanced continuation courses in these topics specialized in colloid, polymer, membrane and biopolymer science. In relation to teaching by most institutes at the BOKU, we see our role as providing a model-based understanding that benefits alternative and innovative views also of the traditional BOKU topics of biotechnology, biomaterials and food science.
Our aim is not to maximize the number of students we teach, but the number of students that we reach with our approach to science and technology.