Graphic: Wilfried Weber


Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information. These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.

Dr. Torsten Schwarz, postdoctoral researcher at the MPIE, analyzed the local clustering and gradients of sodium with the atom probe (seen in the image). Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH


Green energy gained by photovoltaic amounts ca. 6% of Germany’s gross power production . The most common solar cells currently used are made out of silicon. So-called CIGS, solar cells out of copper, indium, gallium and selen (Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2, are a promising alternative with an efficiency of ca. 23%, which is the conversion rate of light to electricity. In comparison to conventional silicon solar cells, CIGS consumes less material and production energy and are thus cheaper in production and environmentally friendly.

Motor proteins (green dots) move along microtubules like on a highway. Image: G. Merck / TUM

Most people have never heard of them, and yet every living being needs them to survive: fine protrusions of cells known as cilia. They allow sperm to move, form fine protective hairs in the lungs and play a crucial role in the differentiation of organs in embryos. A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now reconstructed the protein complex responsible for transport within cilia, which plays a decisive role in their functioning.

The molecular ruby in a solid (red) and dissolved (yellow) state can be used for contactless optical measurement of pressure. photo/©: Sven Otto, JGU


Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and at the Université de Montréal in Canada have developed a molecular system capable of very precise optical pressure measurements. The gemstone ruby served as the source of inspiration. However, the system developed by the team headed by Professor Katja Heinze at the JGU Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry and Professor Christian Reber at the Université de Montréal is a water-soluble molecule, not an insoluble solid.