Tiny apatite crystals in bone, vesicles formed from membranes, pores in fuel cell membranes, and microcapsules used as medical drug carriers...... All of these are structures larger than an atom but too small to see with the naked eye nanostructures and microstructures studied and created by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces. These structures are usually colloids, tiny particles in different media, or interfaces between two materials. Many structures can be found in nature. Scientists at the institute in Potsdam strive to understand how they are composed and how they work in order to mimic their behaviour in new materials or vaccines. Understanding the function of these structures can also help determine the causes of certain diseases that occur when membranes fold or the transport of materials in cells fails to function properly.
Colloidal and interfacial studies involve very small or very thin structures on the nano and micron scales. On the one hand, these structures are a complete "world of hidden dimensions", on the other hand, the complex structure and dynamics of these structures determine the behavior of larger systems, such as living organisms. A deeper understanding of colloids and interfaces is therefore key to numerous innovations, such as the development of "smart" drug carriers and biomaterials. This requires an interdisciplinary approach that combines chemical synthesis and biomimetic material development with physical characterization and theoretical modeling. The nano - and microscopic structures studied by MPIKG consist of special molecules that build their structures "on their own" according to the principle of self-organization.