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Our interest is to identify the physical mechanisms on the microscale leading to the divers structural and mechanical properties of biological systems. . All the projects are linked to the design of new approaches, methods and analysis tools in order to quantify the mechanics and the dynamic processes on the micro- and nanoscale of biomolecular systems. The systems studied range from the development of model pattern forming systems, to the in vitro reconstitution of active cytoskeletal systems up to the cell-cell interactions within a complex extracellular matrix.

 Colloidal Pattern Formation 

Active control over the assembly of colloidal particles has important applications for the design of new nanostructured materials. Biological processes like cytoskeletal assembly, blood vessel or tissue formation rely on the precise control of the growth aggregation conditions, resulting in structures with well-defined surface-to-volume ratios, morphology and characteristic structral length scales. The goal of this project is to design new, dynamic materials on the basis of colloidal aggregation processes, harnessing the ability to exactly control interaction energies between colloidal particles by means of DNA hybridisation to understand structure formation processes found in nature. 

 Active Cytoskeleton 

The goal of this project is to obtain a microscopic understanding of the emergence of dynamic patterns in active matter systems, such as those found in living organisms. The remarkable properties observed for these active systems that self-organise on different length scales emerge from the active motion of their constituent particles, which results in locally broken detailed balance. To identify the underlying physical concepts that govern active matter system behaviour we use a bottom-up approach that has the advantage of full control over experimental parameters. 

 Cell-Cell Interactions 

Mechanical interactions of cells are ubiquitous and essential for all developmental processes. While mostly  biochemical signaling pathways are in the center of research interest, we try to unravel what role the mechanical interactions play. To this end we employ a series of micromechanical and light microscopy technologies to cellular systems of increased complexity. Quantitative analysis relies on imaging processing technologies, which result ultimately in time resolved data on the micro-structure and the evolving stress and strain relations. 

Organoids and  Tissue Mechanics 

The exceptional mechanical properties of the load bearing connection of tendon to bone rely on an intricate interplay of its biomolecular composition, microstructure and micromechanics. We identified that the Achilles tendon-bone insertion is characterized by an interface region of  about 500 µm with a distinct fiber organization and biomolecular composition. Within this region, we identify a heterogeneous mechanical response by micromechanical testing coupled with multiscale confocal microscopy

Currently, we are also working on a technology transfer project to improve inventory management for research labs. The simple-to-use FLUICS CONNECT platform is based on a label printer in the lab and a mobile app that connect to an online database to easily track all the inventory (samples, reagents, equipment) in a lab. For more information click here.

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Already finished projects can be found here. There you will find spider silk, spherical crystallography, polymers under flow ...

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