Axis V

Design of new biomimetic, biodegradable, active, self-healing, responsive, life-like materials

Countless materials in Nature have resulted from processes of evolution, whose composition, synthesis and multi-scale organization are still incompletely elucidated. Moreover, thanks to its out-of-equilibrium thermodynamic state, biological matter possesses specific properties from which we are just beginning to draw inspiration for developing innovative material systems. Among these properties are motility, activity and adaptability to environmental constraints as well as dynamic coordination between building elements.

The aim of Axis 5 is to build on the knowledge of biomimetic and biological systems to develop new biodegradable polymers, bio-inspired multifunctional materials, active matter systems and life-like materials.

The field will address environmental (degradation and decontamination) and biomedical (drug delivery, adhesives, antimicrobial coatings) challenges by relying on the knowledge and tools developed for biological/biomimetic systems, in association with synthetic materials or not.

Subtheme 1. Biofriendly and biologically-derived materials

Polymers (bio)synthesized from biomass (biobased polymers) and interactions with living systems (cells, tissues, bacteria, fungi) in various environments will be surveyed. These polymers will be mainly synthesized using biomass-derived building blocks or extracted from biological materials. In the same way, bio-sourced chars will be studied for agronomic, environmental and energy applications. After fabrication and processing, the properties of these materials will be evaluated in view of the different targeted applications. Finally, the end of life of these biofriendly materials will be considered; degradation due to the interaction with living systems (biodegradation) will be investigated.

Subtheme 2. Active matter

The expertise of our consortium on nano-, micro- and macro-active systemswill be geared towards experimental and theoretical studies of new molecular, polymer, self-assembled or colloidal particle systems able to autonomously move or perform precise tasks under chemical (e.g. catalytic reactants) or physical (e.g. light) activations. Typically, photoactive molecules, active liquid crystal elastomers/networks, active polymers, membranes and Janus colloidal particles will be investigated.

These systems, activated by external fields (electromagnetic field or chemical fuels) will be used to create active and autonomous systems able to perform tasks, which are beyond the simple response to stimuli.

Subtheme 3. Materials with life-like properties

Our inspiration comes from living organisms, which have resulted in a very wide range of biomacromolecules (biopolymers, nucleic acids or proteins) capable of self-assembling and forming dynamic 3D objects with specific shapes. Here our aim is to mimic functions of living biological systems by combining genetic engineering and materials science approaches. Using self-assembled recombinant DNA or protein structures borrowed from living systems such as proteins rich in L-DOPA and L-Lysine or antimicrobial peptides, materials will be functionalized or structured and dynamic active artificial systems will be developed. To achieve such a design, we will first put theoretical and experimental efforts into the physical/physicochemical descriptions of simple active biological systems which will be modified according to the desired design by genetic engineering or into the understanding of the mechanisms of interaction of cells with their natural environment. These systems could well be able to perform active drug delivery, energy conversion processes, intelligent sensing and life-like actuation.


UMR S_1121, 3Bio team

Membrane, sponges, cylinders, balls and tubes composed of 100% albumin in native, stable, resistant, biosourced and biocompatible form. These biomaterials are obtained by the patented Albupad technology, jointly developed by UMR S_1121 and the 3BIO team of UMR 7199.

ICS, MCube

An influenza rolling engine

How Influenza’s Spike Motor Works
Falko Ziebert and Igor M. Kulić,
Phys. Rev. Lett. 126, 218101 (2021)

ICS, MCube

Active colloids orbiting giant vesicles
Vaibhav Sharma, Elise Azar, Andre Schroder, Carlos Marques, Antonio Stocco.
Soft Matter 17, 4275 – 4281 (2021)

ICS, MCube

Plastic pollution: the hidden threat of oligomers
The magnitude of the plastic pollution in oceans and its consequences on wildlife physiology draws our attention to the visible large scale consequences of this waste for living organisms. A more insidious threat lies in the oligomeric chain fragments resulting from its degradation. These molecules are hard to detect and their tiny dimensions enable them to sneak in and penetrate almost everywhere, and possibly in our cells! The Mcube team of the Institut Charles Sadron (CNRS/University of Strasbourg) shows it: even small amount of polystyrene oligomers can penetrate into the cell membranes and possibly meddle with essential functions. These results are exposed in the PNAS journal.

Accumulation of styrene oligomers alters lipid membrane phase order and miscibility,
Mattia I. Morandi, Monika Kluzek, Jean Wolff, André Schröder, Fabrice Thalmann and Carlos M. Marques,
PNAS, 118(4) e2016037118 (2021)


Insertion of hydrophobic spacers on dodecalysines as potential transfection enhancers
Clothilde Le Guen, Candice Dussouillez, Antoine Kichler, Delphine Chan-Seng
European Polymer Journal 157, 110654 (2021)

Faculté de physique & ingénierie
Faculté de chimie
Carnot MICA