VTT explores and develops nanomaterial applications using biomolecules. The 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 a new ways of thinking in a range of fields, from tribology to electronics. It is, however, a great challenge to develop practical workable solutions and to develop applications.
VTT's approach is to look at different aspects such as the development of biological nanomaterials and biofunctionalization of nanomaterials in general.
Applications that we have demonstrated, include nanoparticle patterning, new concepts in bio-lubrication and functionalization of carbon nanomaterials.
In our studies of interactions between nanomaterials and biomoleucles we have extensively used a group of proteins called hydrophobins as a model. The adhesion and self-assembly that these proteins exhibit has led to innovations such as selective surface patterning and biofunctionalization of carbon nanotubes.
Nanocellulose is one of the biological nanomaterials that we are investigating. It is produced from cellulose by separating fibres into their smallest constituents. At VTT we have developed its production, properties, functionalization, and applications..
Protein engineering, recombinant DNA technology, surface science, imaging techniques, and spectroscopic techniques are some key techniques that are used at VTT.
Biomimetic approaches, bio-inspired or bio-based nanomaterials and renewable materials is a rapidly developing field and is expected to lead to new high performance materials, sensors and devices.
Understanding and controlling interactions between nano- and biological materials also plays an important role for understanding toxicological and environmental effects of nanomaterials.
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