Evolutionary Biomaterials Group

 

 

Higly-specialised biological systems decreasing (anti-frictional systems) or increasing friction (frictional systems) (figure: SEM picture of the microscopical cuticle outgrowths in the head part of the dragonfly arrester system)

Biological systems that use various types of attractive forces to fixate parts of the body to each other, or to attach an organism to the substratum (figure: SEM picture of the fly pulvillus attaching to a smooth surface)

Structure, properties and functional significance of biological materials specialised for a particular function (figure: SEM picture of a fracture through the insect cuticle)

Transfer of ideas from studies on biological systems to materials science. Bionics (biomimetics) of new surface-active materials with enhanced frictional (anti-frictional) or adhesive (anti-adhesive) properties (figure: artificial attachment structures)

 

This basic research oriented project includes approaches of several disciplines: zoology, botany, structural biology, biomechanics, physics, and materials science. Using a wide variety of methods, the group studies mechanical systems and materials, which appeared in biological evolution. The research is mainly focused on biological surfaces specialised for enhancement or reduction of frictional or adhesive forces. Such surfaces are composed of highly-specialised materials and bear surface structures optimised for a particular function. Some of these systems employ secretory substances, modulating forces in the contact area.

In order to show different functional principles, we experimentally test many different systems and try to outline general rules of the interrelationship between structure and function. Since comparative studies on the microsculpture, ultrastructure, material properties, and attachment- detachment performances of several functional systems include a wide variety of organisms, some questions about the evolution of these systems can be resolved.

The obtained results are useful for high-tech areas, such as micro- and nanotechnology, as well as for bionics (biomimetics) of novel surface-active and composite materials.