VTT explores and develops novel biomolecule based nanomaterial applications. Interactions between proteins and nanomaterials are used for building functional devices and materials by self-assembly. Special focus is on protein engineering, surface techniques, characterization of interactions, self-assembly, and microscopy. Applications include surface active proteins, nanocellulose, metallic nanoparticles, carbon nanostructures, combination of top-down and bottom-up techniques, and biological interfaces.
Natural materials and biological molecules are playing an increasing role in nanotechnology, especially in materials and devices. Bio-inspiration and bio-mimicking are inspiring new ways of thinking in many applications, from tribology to electronics. However, it is a great challenge to develop workable solutions and applications.
We develop biological nanomaterials and do biofunctionalization of nanomaterials in general.
We have demonstrated applications such as nanoparticle patterning, new concepts in bio-lubrication and functionalization of carbon nanomaterials.
We have used extensively a group of proteins called hydrophobins as a model in our studies of interactions between nanomaterials and biomolecules. The unique adhesion and self-assembly of these proteins has led to inventions such as selective surface patterning and biofunctionalization of carbon nanotubes.
One of the biological nanomaterials that we are investigating is nanocellulose. It is produced from cellulose by separating fibres into their smallest constituents. VTT is developing extensively its production, properties, functionalization, and applications.
Our key technologies in nanobiotechnology include protein engineering, recombinant DNA technology, surface science, imaging techniques, and spectroscopic techniques.
New high performance materials, sensors and devices can be developed by utilising biomimetic approaches, bio-inspired or bio-based nanomaterials.
Understanding and controlling interactions between nano and biological materials play also an important role in understanding toxicological and environmental effects of nanomaterials.