This thesis focuses on the use of biomolecular assemblies for creating materials with novel properties. Several aspects of biomimetic materials have been investigated, from fundamental studies on membrane shaping molecules to the integration of biomolecules with inorganic materials.
Triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS) are mathematically defined surfaces that partition space and present a large surface area in a confined space. These surfaces have analogues in many physical systems. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) can form intricate structures and it acts as a replica for the wing scales of the butterfly C. rubi, which is characterized by electron microscopy and reflectometry. It was shown to contain a photonic crystal and an analogue to a TPMS. These photonic crystals have been replicated in silica and titania, leading to blue scales with replication on the nanometer scale. Replicas analyzed with left and right handed polarized light are shown be optically active.
A macroporous hollow core particle was synthesized using a double templating method where a swollen block copolymer was utilized to create polyhedral nanofoam. Emulsified oil was used as a secondary template which gave hollow spheres with thin porous walls. The resulting material had a high porosity and low thermal conductivity.
The areas of inorganic materials and functional biomolecules were combined to create a functional nanoporous endoskeleton. The membrane protein ATP synthase were incorporated in liposomes which were deposited on nanoporous silica spheres creating a tight and functional membrane. Using confocal microscopy, it was possible to follow the transport of Na+ through the membrane.
Yop1p is a membrane protein responsible for shaping the ER. The protein was purified and reconstituted into liposomes of three different sizes. The vesicles in the 10-20 nm size range resulted in tubular structures. Thus, it was shown that Yop1p acts as a stabilizer of high curvature structures.
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Submitted.