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York Physics in £5m interdisciplinary biomineralization research programme

Posted on 8 June 2010

Dr Roland Kröger of the Department of Physics wins EPSRC Platform Grant funding for biomineralization research

Dr. Roland Kröger of the Department of Physics has won financial support of more than £800 k to research the interaction of biological and synthetic minerals with soft tissue, as part of a project aiming to develop novel materials targeting biomedical and ecological applications.

Dr Kröger’s work is part of an EPSRC Platform Grant proposal entitled “Hard-Soft Matter Interfaces: From Engineering to Understanding”.  The programme's core aim is to study the fundamental mechanisms behind the mineralization in biological systems such as bone, eggshell and corals.  The platform grant, totalling approximately £5m, will fund a programme of research which brings together chemists, biologists and physicists in an interdisciplinary collaboration comprising theoretical and experimental work.

Dr. Kröger’s contribution focuses on the materials physics aspect, namely the investigation of the mineral structures and the mineral/tissue interfaces using state-of-the-art characterization tools such as aberration corrected electron microscopy and the focused ion beam technique.  He is aiming to develop new approaches for in-situ probing of the nucleation and growth process at the organic/inorganic interface.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds, York, Warwick and Cambridge and University College London.

electron diffraction pattern of the aragonite needles forming the corallite skeleton
Electron diffraction pattern of the aragonite needles forming the corallite skeleton

The reef-building coral Porites lutea
The reef-building coral Porites lutea (image: Nikkita Lawton)

transmission electron microscope image of 10 - 500 nanometer wide aragonite needles embedded in an organic matrix
Transmission electron microscope image of 10-500 nm wide aragonite needles embedded in an organic matrix