Our research topics

  • Bioprinting


     3D printing is the impetus behind major innovations ranging from art to medicine. This project applies 3D bioprinting technology for the development of a reproducible 3D human omentum model composed of a biocompatible extra cellular matrix and various cell types in order to develop tissue models to expedite medical research. The 3D human omentum tissue model will be engineered by a layer-to-layer printing approach and considers spatial inhomogeneities such as layers of adipocytes or numbers of macrophages. As 3D bioprinting is a developing field, we will pursue a step-wise approach, beginning from mono-cultures to more complex 3D multi-cellular models. In the first phase, human cell lines and commercially available collagen type I will be used. Primary cells will subsequently be introduced. In the last phase of the project, cancer cells will be introduced allowing the study of adhesion and invasion of ovarian and peritoneal cancer cells.



    Bioprinting of Tissue / Spheorids

  • Hazard Assessment

    Hazard Assessment

     Understanding the consequences of novel nanomaterials on biological systems is critical to their further application. We address this problem through the development of multicellular in vitro human cell systems, which are enhanced representative matrices for the assessment of biological effects induced by anthropogenic particles.

     This research focuses on the establishment of several 3D cell culture models, focusing on the three important biological systems that are our physiological barriers to the outside word. The first focus is the lung as the main portal of entry for aerosolized nanomaterials such as particulates from car exhausts. To construct this replica tissue, we employ different human lung co-culture models consisting of alveolar or bronchial epithelial cells and immune cells.

     Our second focus probes the hazardous effects of ingested nanomaterials (e.g. nanoplastics), where we have implemented intestinal co-culture models of human epithelial and immune cells into a 3D tissue model.

     Our third focus examines the impact of air pollutants on cutaneous responses in both healthy and compromised skin barriers through the development of 3D models of the human skin.



    3D Tissue Models to Assess Hazards (Lung / Intestine / Skin)

    Hazard Assessment of Aerosolized Nanomaterials


  • Nano-Bio Interactions

    Nano-Bio Interactions

    Uptake, transport, and cellular trafficking of engineered nanomaterials in eukaryotic cells are complex processes that are still not well understood. We analyze the multifaceted structures of living beings down to the cellular level, and in doing so, tackle analytical challenges to visualize and quantify nanomaterials and their effects in biological environments ranging from human lung cells, to agricultural plants, and wood for construction materials.

     Our interests center on several interdisciplinary subtopics. We determine the fate of nanomaterials in cells, providing knowledge on uptake, intracellular trafficking, and exocytosis that can affect cytotoxicity, cell behavior, and the therapeutic efficacy of nanomaterials. In cells, nanomaterials can undergo changes affecting the particle stability, and their surface properties can be used to trigger intracellular processes such as apoptosis. In a subgroup centered on particle-protein interactions, we modify the surface chemistry of nanomaterials and characterize the evolution of the protein corona on particles that affects their uptake into cells and intracellular behavior. Enzyme-containing nanoparticles as reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers are explored in our biomedical nanoparticles subgroup as promising candidates for the treatment of pulmonary inflammation.

     We are also interested in plant-nano interactions and one subgroup nanoparticles for wood preservation investigates key parameters to improve the nanoparticle impregnation behavior in wood. Last but not least, we explore bioinspired agrochemicals: we use the agricultural legume crop Medicago sativa (alfalfa) to characterize the efficiency and biological effects of novel nano-fertilizers.



    Bioinspired Agrochemicals

    Biomedical Nanoparticles

    Nanoparticles for Wood Preservation

    Particle Stability and Stimuli-Responsiveness

    Particle-Protein Interactions

    Trafficking of Nanomaterials

    Understanding the Velvet Worm Slime Curing Mechanism

  • Nanobiomechanics


    Cells exist in a complex, 3-dimensional world: they form attachments to substrates &/or the matrix in which they are embedded. Subcellular structures form a dynamic cytoskeletal architecture that support the cell, aids in cell migration and signal transduction, and acts to traffic materials into and out of the cell. We study the relationship between nanomaterials and cell mechanics. This includes understanding the effect of the cell on the nanoparticle, namely cellular adhesion forces and cytoskeleton dynamics; and conversely, the effect of the nanoparticles on the cell, specifically investigating how nanoparticles interact with the cytoskeleton, alter cell mechanical properties (i.e. elasticity), and change cell motility. These phenomena have important implications for fields of research such as wound healing and tissue engineering, nanotoxicology and cytotoxicity, and the development of functional nanomaterials. In turn, this knowledge will be utilized in the design of nanoparticles in order to control cell mechanics and construct mechanoresponsive substrates for cells.



    Adhesion in Cytoskeleton Dynamics

    Mechanoresponsive Cell Substrates

    Nanoparticles and Cell Mechanics

  • Nanoparticle Analytics

    Nanoparticle Analytics

    The analysis of nanoparticles in their intended environment is very challenging, particularly when the nanoparticles are introduced into a complex environment. These environments vary in nature, be it proteins in biological samples, lipids in cosmetic products or even more complex environments in industry or consumer products. We utilize and develop state-of the art instrumentation for nanoparticle detection and analysis in various environments, from protein-rich cell culture media, in cells and complex tissue models, to packaging material, plants or even food products. For these studies, we  employ well-established methods (e.g. measuring the colloidal stability by light or x-ray scattering) alongside the development of new methods (e.g. the extraction of nanoparticles from food products by microwave digestion) and instrumentation (using infrared imaging for nanoparticle analysis). In order to completely understand the behavior of nanoparticles in these complex environments, a combinatory approach using a multitude of methods is essential and requires a interdisciplinary expertise.



    Colloidal Stability


    Extraction and Detection of Nanoparticles

    Lock-in Thermography

    Soil Plant Analytics

    Taylor Dispersion Analysis

  • Nanoparticle Design

    Nanoparticle Design

    The deliberate design and fabrication of nanoparticles and nanocomposites for specific biological applications is desired to improve medical treatments. The BioNanomaterial group has the expertise on the synthesis of a wide variety of thermodynamically stable nanoparticles with tight control over composition, size and morphology; from inorganic nanoparticles comprising of precious metals, magnetic and silica nanoparticles, to organic particles, namely liposomes, carbon dots and polymeric beads. These nanomaterials can be functionalized to enhance their applicability, versatility and certain properties on demand. We have explored methods to deliberately fabricate these assemblies in order to enhance their unique, stimuli responsive properties such as the photothermal properties of gold nanoparticles and the electromagnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles. The design and fabrication of hybrid nanocomposites are also being investigated.



    Hybrid Nanomaterials

    Nanoparticle Functionalization

    Nanoparticle Synthesis

    Self-Assembled Nanoparticles

All BioNanomaterials Projects