Biophysics

Given NTNU’s strong international presence in medical imaging, it should come as no surprise that one division of the Physics Department is involved in biophysics. Two sub-areas of research are of particular interest, the Biological Polymer group and the Bionanotechnology group.

Researchers in the Biological Polymer group are looking at mesoscale structure formation and interactions of non-crystalline biological macromolecules. The group’s research encompasses polyelectrolyte complexation, biopolymer multilayers, gelation kinetics and structure of polysaccharide gels, as well as responsive gels as biospecific signal transducers. Additional research topics include immunologically active (1,3)-β-D-glucans and their interactions with polynucleotides, physics of enzymatic mode of action, toll-like receptors and their primary activation step and the target search strategy of DNA repair enzymes.

A recent example of their work is an examination of hybrid hydrogels for biospecific signal transduction as a tool for realizing biosensors on a fibre-optic based interferometre.

The bionanotechnology group is exploring a number of projects that bring biology and nanotechnology together to build new approaches to technical challenges.  Among the projects of interest to the researcher network are:

Interactions between nanostructured surfaces and biological systems, where researchers are using various copper and copper oxide based nanostructured surfaces to produce superhydrophobic interfaces for digital microfluidic systems or platforms for physical transfection of cells. Both applications are based on smart surfaces consisting of a dense array of vertically aligned CuO nanowires on a copper substrate.

Nanoscale control of mineral deposition using polysaccharide gel networks, where the goal is to create new composite organic/inorganic materials using a model system based on alginate gel capsules.
Natural nanostructured materials, where nanostructured materials found in nature are being used in specific applications, such as for templates for the fabrication of inorganic nanowires and nanotubes. The group is currently working on the characterization, isolation and application of biopolymer nanotubes from spines and hairs of a bristleworm Aphrodita aculeate (Sea Mouse).

 

(Bjørn Torger Stokke, Marit Sletmoen, Pawel Sikorski)