Biopolymers are located inside and outside of eukaryotic cells where they form hydrogels in aqueous environments. Examples include mucus, the extracellular matrix and bacterial biofilms, respectively.
Such hydrogels have a dual function: first, they are responsible for the viscoelastic properties of cells and tissues and protect them from mechanical damage. Second, they regulate the passive transport of particles and molecules.
Our research has the following goals:
- To discover new, to date unknown properties of biopolymers.
- To identify the microscopic principles that govern the material properties (e.g., mechanics, permeability, and lubricity) of biological hydrogels.
- To apply those principles to synthetic polymers, create biomimetic materials and find technical/medical applications for purified biopolymers.