Physics and Chemistry of Multifunctional Materials
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Physics and Chemistry of Multifunctional Materials June 25th to July 9th 2006 Genova - Italy Biomaterials - Biopolymers. Kim Kusk Mortensen Dept. of Molecular Biology Aarhus University Aarhus - Denmark. Biopolymers Lecture disposition. Fibers, hair, horn, skin and storage Examples and uses

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Kim Kusk Mortensen Dept. of Molecular Biology Aarhus University Aarhus - Denmark

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Physics and Chemistry of Multifunctional MaterialsJune 25th to July 9th 2006Genova - ItalyBiomaterials - Biopolymers

Kim Kusk Mortensen

Dept. of Molecular Biology

Aarhus University

Aarhus - Denmark

BiopolymersLecture disposition

  • Fibers, hair, horn, skin and storage

    • Examples and uses

  • DNA, Protein and Carbohydrates

    • Chemistry, structure and functions

  • Design of novel functions

Examples and uses

  • Fibers

    • Vegetable fibers

      • Cellulose

    • Animal fibers

      • Keratin

      • Collagen

      • Fibroin

  • Storage

    • Starch

    • Glycogen

Vegetable fibersSeed fibers (cellulose)



Vegetable fibersFruit fiber (cellulose)

Used for the manufacture of dormats, brushes and insulation



Vegetable fibersLeaf fiber (cellulose)

Sisal (agave)

Vegetable fibersBast fiber (cellulose)


Fibers for rope manufacturing


Vegetable fibersBast fiber (cellulose)


Flax (linen)



… also trees, papyrus, soybean, ocra, banana… and many other plants

Used for manufacturing of ropes, yarn, paper, burlap (hessian)

Vegetable fibersStalk fiber (cellulose)

Straws of wheat, rice, barley, and other crops including bamboo, rattan and grass

Used for numerous purposes, eg building materials

Rattan chair

Vegetable carbohydratesStorage (starch, glycogen)

Electron micrograph of liver tissue

Animal fibersHair (protein – keratin)

Wool from sheep, goats, rabbits and llamas is used for the manufacturing of yarn, textiles and felt.

Animal fibersSinews, skin, cartilage, and bones (protein – collagen)

Production of glue, gelatin and collagen

Animal fibersSilk (protein – fibroin)

Chemistry, structure and functions

  • DNA

    • Building blocks

    • Structure

    • Function

  • Protein

    • Building blocks

    • Structures

    • Self assembly

    • Examples

  • Carbohydrates

    • Building blocks

    • Structures

    • Examples

DNA (RNA) - carrier of informationBuilding blocks

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid

    • Four building blocks – A, T, C, G (bases)

    • Two base pairs – A:T and G:C

  • Ribonucleic acid

    • Four building blocks – A, U, C, G (bases)

    • Two base pairs – A:U and G:C

    • Both 2’ and 3’ hydroxyls on ribose



DNA (RNA) replication

DNA (RNA) structure

DNA – bacterial kromosome

DNA and RNA function

  • Keeper of information (DNA)

  • Carrier of information (DNA and mRNA)

  • Transport and fidelity (tRNA)

  • Control of transcription (siRNA)

  • Control of translation (tmRNA, mRNA)

  • Ribozymes (RNA-enzymes, Ribosome)

Protein - carrier of function

  • Polymer of amino acids

  • Only L-amino acidsin natural proteins

Polypeptide synthesis

  • Peptide bond formation

20 different natural amino acids

Polypeptide sequence of amino acids - coded by the DNA sequence

Protein structureSelf assembly

Protein function

  • Enzyme

  • Transport

  • Timers

  • Fidelity

  • Controle

  • Structural proteins


Hair, horns, skin, nails, hoofs and tortoise shells are made of keratin


Sinews, skin, cartilage, and bones

Silk (fibroin)

CarbohydratesMono- and disaccharides

  • Polymers of sugar-monomers









CarbohydratesSynthesis and degradation

  • Enzymatic catalysed synthesis

  • Structure and sequence is enzyme coded

  • Enzymatic catalysed degradation

Polysaccharides structureCellulose

Polysaccharide structureXylans

Polysaccharide structureChitin: polyglucosamin

Polysaccharide structureStarch: Amylose and amylopectin

Polysaccharide structureGlycogen

Polysaccharide structureDextran

Leuconostoc mesenteroides


n Sucrose (glucose)n + n fructose


Polysaccharide structureAgar - agarose


Design of novel functions

  • Nano-materials

    • Defined layers

    • Surfaces

    • Tubes - conductors

  • Multi-diciplinary development

    • DNA and Protein

    • Carbohydrates

    • Organic chemistry

    • Inorganic chemistry

    • Electrochemistry

Self assembly

  • Exploite biopolymer association

    • Selectivity

    • Specificity

    • Affinity

  • Develop binding koordination

    • Surface grafting

    • Sequential binding

    • Enzymatic activation

    • Bloking and deblocking

Self-assembling structuresExample: Virus coat Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus (CCMV)

Selectivity and affinityAvidin (streptavidin) - Biotin


Kd ≈ 10-14 - 10-15


Surface design

Surface design


Peptide Nucleic Acid

Linking DNA sequence to protein functionPhage-display

Artificial spider webNEXUS

Spider glands

Fibroin produced in a transgenic goat

Future materials

Future materials



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