Biomimetic Materials

The quest for designing new materials to unravel and mimic the biogenic mechanisms behind the formation of superior natural structures has stimulated interest in a broad range of disciplines. We nanoengineer polysaccharides and proteins to develop functional biomimetic materials that have (i) all-natural backbones, (ii) no anthropogenic effects such as eutrophication, (iii) the capability for macroscale performance, (iv) no extreme and/or controlled reaction condition requirements, (v) a high efficiency at extremely low concentrations, and (vi) a strong polymorph selectivity. The emergence of these advanced sustainable nanomaterials may open new horizons in the field of bioinspired nanoengineering for designing inorganic nanostructures and hybrid inorganic–organic nanocomposites.

Biomimetic Minerals

We design crystal modifiers that stabilize rare polymorphs of inorganic crystals at an ambient condition, which would otherwise be thermodynamically impossible to achieve. The applications span from hard tissue engineering and hybrid organic-inorganic composite materials to crystal engineering, modification, and inhibition.

The formation of vaterite, the least thermodynamically stable crystalline polymorph of calcium carbonate at an ambient condition using nanoengineered cellulose. The structures formed in the lab (a,b,d-g) resemble the vaterite in the asteriscus of salmon (c, Oncorhynchus keta, SEM image from Kogure Lab, the University of Tokyo).

Biomimetic Membranes

We engineer hybrid nanocomposite membranes that can resist scaling, corrosion, and/or biofouling in realistic industrial conditions.

The schematic showing how antiscaling nanoparticles impart antiscaling properties to water treatment membranes.

Selected Publications

(3) Journal of Materials Chemistry A

Biomimetic scale-resistant polymer nanocomposites: Towards universal additive-free scale inhibition (Link)

A. Sheikhi,* A. Kakkar, and T.G.M. van de Ven*. 6:10189-10195. 2018.

(2) Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology

Macromolecule based platform for developing tailor made formulations for scale inhibition (Link)

A. Sheikhi,§ N. Li,§ T.G.M. van de Ven, and A. Kakkar. 2:71-84. 2016.

(1) Crystal Growth & Design

A leaf out of Nature’s book: hairy nanocelluloses for bioinspired mineralization (Link)

A. Sheikhi, A. Kakkar, and T.G.M. van de Ven. 16:46274634. 2016.

Other Technologies

Microfluidic-Enabled Biomaterials

Biocolloids and Biopolymers

Colloidal Gels