In the conventional scientific classification, biology deals with the study of Life and living organisms whereas physics and chemistry deals with the constituents of matter and their dynamics. Materials science in turn combines engineering aspects to physics and chemistry and focuses on the structure-function relationship of materials. My group is putting genes on the menu of materials science and soft condensed matter: we perform interdisciplinary studies of functional microsystems and nanomaterials.

Magnetotactic bacteria and their chain of magnetosomes (image above) represent a striking example where a very simple living organism precisely controls the properties of individual building blocks (nanoparticle size and shape) together with their assembly at the nanometer-scale. In my group, we thus develop a bio-inspired research based on biomineralizing unicellular organisms, which aims at understanding how biological systems synthesize, organize and use minerals, and to apply the design principles to sustainably form hierarchical materials with controlled properties that can be used e.g. as magnetically directed nanodevices towards applications in medicine, sensing, actuating, and transport.

Contact: Dr. Damien Faivre, Potsdam, Germany