Synthetic biological materials: from artificial cell membranes to biomimetic minerals and living materials.

Mechanical processes at the cell membrane
We design, develop and use biophysical assays to track dynamical cellular processes occurring at the cell membrane. We study artificial cell membranes as well as living (algal and bacterial) cells. Our interest is in the study of individual biomolecules, cells and membranes under external physical/chemical stimuli. This, in the hope of understanding the molecular mechanisms driving biological processes. Collaborations: Andreas Engel, Bertus Beaumont (Bionanoscience, TU Delft), Daniel Tam (Lab for Aero & Hydrodynamics, TU Delft).

Representative publication:

Dols-Perez A#, Marin V#, Amador GJ#, Kieffer R, Tam D, Aubin-Tam ME
Artificial cell membranes interfaced with optical tweezers: a versatile microfluidics platform for nanomanipulation and mechanical characterization
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019
#equally contributing authors

Living materials and biomineralized composites
We use microorganisms to fabricate bio-based and/or living materials. Most living organisms use elements in their environment to fabricate composite materials. Due to their intricate and hierarchical structure, biocomposite materials present improved material properties when compared with their pure inorganic counterparts. Collaborations: Elvin Karana (TU Delft), Anne Meyer (University of Rochester, USA), Amir Zadpoor (TU Delft), An-Wu Xu (USTC, China), S. Garcia (TU Delft), Filipe Natalio (Weizmann Institute, Israel).

Representative publication:

Spiesz EM^, Schmieden DT^, Grande AM, Liang K, Schwiedrzik J, Natalio F, Michler J, Garcia SJ, Aubin-Tam ME*, Meyer AS*
Bacterially-produced, nacre-inspired composite materials
Small, 1805312, 2019
^equally contributing authors;
*corresponding authors