As well as organic structures, mineral structures also play an important role in living organisms. You don’t even have to go as far as seashells or the artful silica scaffolds of diatoms; a glimpse into your own body will do. Our bones and teeth are made of the mineral hydroxyapatite.
Biomineralization is a very complicated process that is not so easy to mimic.
The silicate precursors required for the synthesis of the cell walls of diatoms are in a stabilized form, which prevents their uncontrolled polymerization. Special proteins then control the polymerization to make the highly complex structures of the resulting scaffold. Researchers would also like to control biomineralization processes to repair damaged teeth or to make synthetic cartilage and bone tissue. In order to culture bones, scientists would like to seed osteoblasts (bone building cells) from the patient’s own body onto a substrate, where they would attach and multiply. This scaffolding would be implanted to help damaged bone, in cases of osteoporosis-induced or highly complicated fractures for example, to regenerate. Osteoblasts release collagen, calcium phosphate, and calcium carbonate as the basis for new bone material.
Collagen fibers would be an ideal substrate, but they are not solid enough for bone repair. The researchers once again turned to nature for inspiration: in glass sponges, a collagen matrix is one component of the silica scaffolding. Would it thus be possible to strengthen a collagen structure with silica (silicon dioxide)? Although many teams have previously failed in their attempts, the team led by Tay and Chen has now been successful.
They used collagen fibers as both a “mold” and a catalyst for the polymerization of the liquid phase of a silica precursor compound to make solid silica. The silica precursor is stabilized with choline to prevent an uncontrolled polymerization. This leaves enough time for the liquid precursor to fully infiltrate the space between the microfibrils of the collagen fibers before it polymerizes to form silica—one secret to the success of this new approach. After the polymerization the solid silica reflects the architecture determined by the collagen fibers. After drying, the original sponge-like, porous structure of the collagen fibers is maintained. In contrast to pure collagen, the scaffold of the hybrid compound is stable and could, the researchers hope, be used to repair bones.
Franklin R. Tay | Angewandte Chemie
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences