HYBER combined groups working on molecular self-assembly, genetic engineering of proteins, biotechnological production of engineered biomolecules, and plant cell wall materials. The grand vision is that genetic methods will allow unsurpassed control of materials properties and functions, and even the production of programmable dynamic “bionanomachines”.
The overall goal of this project was to develop a fundamental understanding of how self-assembled multicomponent materials of the future can be designed and produced using biological starting materials, based on plant cell wall structures and designed biological macromolecules. The main aims were to increase consumer and industrial awareness of biosynthetic materials, advance liquid-repellent surfaces for technological applications, and direct communication between bacteria to change their group behavior and combat bacterial infections in humans.
A. Broad results:
Establishing the mechanism of protein material assembly through phase transitions, and successful control of communication between bacteria, directing their group-behavior.
B. Specific results:
1: Molecular Design: Beyond Silk, Nanocellulose and Nacre
TOUGHENED BIOMIMETIC NANOCOMPOSITES BY SACRIFICIAL BONDS
We showed nacre-mimetic clay-polymer assemblies with a fracture toughness approaching that of nacre and strength exceeding that of nacre, promoted by the sacrificial bonds by polyvinylalcohol polymer.
2: From Supramolecular Chemistry to Suprabiocolloidal Science
PRECISION NANOPARTICLE ASSEMBLIES ACROSS LENGTH SCALES
We used atomically precise gold and silver nanoclusters to produce 2D crystals, capsid-like structures, cluster frameworks, superparticles, and hybrid colloidal cages. We showed self-assembly-induced luminescent encapsulation of plasmonic nanoparticles and nanoconfinement of drug molecules, also using hydrogen bonding, metalchelation, and fluorine interactions.
Our Scanning Droplet Adhesion Microscopy and Scanning Droplet Tribometer methods provided major breakthroughs overcoming mechanical fragility and insufficiently sensitive characterization of wetting surfaces.
We showed a new approach to continuous-flow photo-oxidation in aqueous media using biohybrid nanofibres.
We showed that rodlike protein assemblies can be used to design well-defined binary superlattice wire structures.
Cellulose nanocrystal were assembled by evaporation-induced assembly to form aligned adhesive layers for anisotropic glueing with high in-plane bonding strength and low in the perpendicular direction.
3: From Static Self-Assembly to Dynamic Self-Assembly and Synthetic Biology
PAVLOVIAN MATERIALS: FUNCTIONAL BIOMIMETICS INSPIRED BY CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
We demonstrated two soft matter systems: a) Hydrogels, which “learn “ to melt by irradiation and b) liquid crystalline network actuators, which “learn” to actuate by light irradiation where in both cases light did not have an effect originally.
We showed how dissipative systems can be achieved upon a simultaneous exposure of magnetic and electric fields in magnetic nanoparticle/surfactant system in organic liquid.
GROUP BEHAVIOUR OF BACTERIA
We were able to control the dynamic behaviour of bacterial communities by modifying their signalling. We also reduced the virulence of pathogenic bacteria and the build-up of antibiotic resistance.
BOOSTING THE MICROBIAL PRODUCTION OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE PROTEIN POLYMERS
We showed that protein polymers, such as spider silk fibroin and fruit fly resilin protein, can be produced very efficiently using engineered microbial production hosts like the filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei.