Research & Faculty

Centre for Biointerface Characterization: CBiC

Throughout nature, unique and interesting reactions occur at the interfaces between materials. Biomaterials are characterized by surfaces with very complex three-dimensional topography as well as changing chemical composition. The surface compounds and shape vary locally, creating chemical landscapes with distinctive features ranging in sizes from atoms all the way to cells. Interactions between these structures and matching features on other surfaces can be very strong, and can thus lead to outstanding material properties. At the same time, the possible match between surfaces can also give rise to selective recognition phenomena. The micropatterning of biointerfaces distinguishes them from most artificial materials, which have largely homogeneous surface structures or relatively ill-defined molecular composition, crystallinity and roughness. Consequently, the highly desirable properties of many biological materials (e.g., their elasticity and durability) cannot nearly be matched by the currently available artificial materials.

CBiC is a CFI-funded consortium of research groups at UBC that is housed mainly in AMPEL. The mandate of CBiC is to develop novel artificial materials with enhanced mechanical properties for improved biocompatibility. In order to enable the design of such advanced biomimetic materials, the structural micropatterns of biological model surfaces and their artificial counterparts have to be determined in detail. To this end, the chemical compounds exposed at the surfaces have to be mapped with high resolution. On the other hand, the mechanical properties of the model surfaces must be determined. The combined chemical and biomechanical data will allow us to understand and control adhesion and recognition phenomena.

CBiC is a highly multidisciplinary research centre in which different groups collaborate to characterize the surfaces of selected biomaterials. CBiC comprises a variety of state-of-the art instruments for the chemical analysis of biomaterials surfaces, for the characterization of their biomechanical properties, and for the preparation of artificial model materials.

The biomaterial models investigated in CBiC comprise three natural and three artificial surface systems, spanning all major biological structures such as lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. In particular, work in CBiC currently focuses on six themes:

- Plant surface lipid films: What is the composition of the top layer of molecules? What causes the outstanding non-adhesive properties?

- Protein fibres: How do surface interactions link protein molecules and filaments?

- Conjugated polymer fibres: How do surface interactions contribute to cross-linking of artificial polymer molecules?

- Lipid polymer surfaces of drug delivery systems: How can adhering cells be removed from surfaces?

- Polymer films lining blood storage bags: How can surface topography and composition be employed to prevent blood cell adhesion and activation?

- Cell wall carbohydrate fibres: How can wood fibre surfaces be coated to improve wood product properties? How do fibre interface interactions contribute to cross-linking of natural polymer molecules?

For questions on graduate studies and postdoctoral stays please contact Reinhard Jetter.

Faculty associated with this Research Centre