External Events

Bioinspired Materials: Materials that Self-Assemble, Display Autonomy and Manipulate Immunity

5-10 June 2022, Les Diablerets, Switzerland


The emerging, interdisciplinary field of Bioinspired Materials focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the synthesis, directed self-assembly, and hierarchical organization of naturally occurring materials, and uses this understanding to engineer new bioinspired artificial materials for diverse applications. In particular, recent advances in responsive materials and adaptive matter – that allow materials to sense and respond to diverse environments – suggest that it is a compelling time to bring together a diverse population of scientists and researchers to understand how to develop materials for sensing and response.

Themes of this meeting will include a) Protocells – synthetic cells that have the structural organization of real cells, but are made of novel synthetic components and can be designed to respond - secrete or crawl – in response to stimuli, for biological or non-biological purposes; b) Adaptive Matter – to make materials from biological components or inspired by biological components that can adapt and respond mechanically or chemically to environmental conditions; c) Self-Assembly – biological molecules and their derivatives have the unique ability to assemble in ordered hierarchies, and make assemblies of novel topology, organization and function; d) Designer immunity – recent developments have seen the novel design of materials that are inspired to direct immune responses, to understand the fundamental tenets of cell communication and how one can manipulate the immunity and protection. Examples include making synthetic antigen presenting cells or lymphoid organs.

PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Christoph Weder (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) is one of the Vice Chairs of this Gordon Research Conference and he will lead the keynote session on "Synthetic Cells". PlaMatSu PI Ullrich Steiner (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Switzerland) is one of the invited speakers and will take part in the session "Functional Bioinspired Assemblies".

Deadline for abstracts is 8 May 2022.

For further information, visit: https://www.grc.org/bioinspired-materials-conference/2022/

PlaMatSu Botanic Garden Exhibition

5 September-31 October 2020, Cambridge University Botanic Garden, UK


Plants have superpowers!

Some plants have the ability to repel water or pests off their leaf surfaces, while others attract pollinating insects to their flowers using colours invisible to us. It's all about the microscopic surface patterns on plant leaves and flowers.

What can we learn from these plants? We at PlaMatSu aim to answer this question by using nature as inspiration for the development of novel materials that could revolutionise industry and our own lives.

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been working with PlaMatSu to share our research with the Garden's visitors and followers. You can watch a video about the project below.

From 5 September 2020, Cambridge is proud to be showcasing these ideas and the research coming out of PlaMatSu in their newly built exhibition space in the Garden. Come and visit us to learn more.

You can learn more about the exhibition here: https://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/whats-on/our-future-is-nature-inspired-plamatsu-exhibition/

A Plants Inspiring Design and Technology walking trail has also been created in conjunction with the exhibition. You can learn more about the walking trail here: https://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/education-learning/trails/design-technology/ 

You can book a ticket to visit the Garden here: https://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/purchase-tickets/

Learn more about the work of PlaMatSu here:

5th Bioinspired Materials 2020: International School and Conference on Biological Materials Science

16-19 March 2020, Virtual Conference


The 5th Bioinspired Materials 2020 Conference on the design of functional materials and systems inspired by principles found in living nature invites submissions. The main aim was to establish an international and interdisciplinary forum for scientists from a variety of fields including biology, chemistry, materials science and engineering, physics and medicine to discuss current cutting-edge research and to identify future research directions in the field of bioinspired materials. Main topics included the formation of hierarchical structures and the properties of complex-shaped biological materials. The transfer of biological principles onto adaptive and autonomous functional materials and systems made of organic and/or inorganic components represented a further main area. Besides synthesis and formation, the conference topics also included research on the functional and mechanical materials properties, the interaction of bioinspired materials with living environments, e.g. tissues and organs, and applications related to medical aspects. A topical focus was on covering biofabrication.

The conference featured a plenary lecture from PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Silvia Vignolini (University of Cambridge, UK) on "Colour Engineering: from nature to application".

For further information, visit: https://bioinspired2020.dgm.de

Bioinspired Materials: From Understanding, Through Processing, to Replication

20-25 October 2019, Monte Verità, Switzerland


Nature produces a wide range of materials with fascinating properties that are often taken as a source of inspiration to produce new manmade materials with superior properties. This international conference focused on the fabrication and characterization of materials made by nature and featured examples that demonstrate how we can learn from nature to build bio-inspired materials. It aimed at providing a venue for bringing research on the characterization of natural materials and investigation of the mechanisms by which they are produced together with research performed on the fabrication of biomimetic materials.

The conference was opened on Sunday 20th October with an opening lecture given by one of PlaMatSu's Principal Investigators, Ullrich Steiner (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Fribourg, Switzerland). The conference was co-organised by PlaMatSu PI Silvia Vignolini (University of Cambridge, UK) alongside Esther Amstad (EPFL, CH), Eric Dufresne (ETH Zurich, CH) and Stephen Schrettl (Adolphe Merkle Institute, CH)

There were also a number of invited speakers, including PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Thomas Speck (University of Freiburg, Germany), alongisde Ingo Burgert (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Helmut Cölfen (University of Konstanz, Germany), Costantino Creton (ESPCI Paris, France), Laura De Laporte (DWI – Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien, Germany), Matthew J. Harrington (McGill University, Canada), Niels Holten-Andersen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), Nicholas Kotov (University of Michigan, USA), Sarah Köster (Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany), Cecilia Leal (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA), Fiona Meldrum (University of Leeds, UK), Phillip B. Messersmith (UC Berkley, USA), Fiorenzo Omenetto (Tufts University, USA), Benjamin Palmer (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), Alyssa Y. Stark (Villanova University, USA), Francesco Stellacci (EPFL, Switzerland), Alison Sweeney (Yale University, USA) and Bodo Wilts (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Switzerland).

The programme featured invited lectures, presentations by junior researchers, poster sessions and, most importantly, plenty of time between sessions and in the afternoons for interactions and inter-disciplinary discussions.

Further information can be found here: http://bioinspired2019.ch/


Biological, Biopolymer-based and Bio-Inspired Materials Symposium at XVIII Brazil Materials Research Society Meeting, inspired Materials: Materials that Self-Assemble, Display Autonomy and Manipulate Immunity

22-26 September 2019, Balneário Camboriú, Brazil


This symposium, co-organised by PlaMatSu Project Coordinator Prof. Nico Bruns, was intended to strengthen the interactions between Brazilian and international researchers who are working on biological, biopolymer-based and bio-inspired materials. It was part of the larger XVIII Brazil MRS Meeting, which is dedicated to recent advances and perspectives in materials science and technology.

For further information, visit: https://www.sbpmat.org.br/18encontro/

Bio-Inspired Materials Symposium at EUROMAT 2019: European Congress and Exhibition on Advanced Materials and Processes

1-5 September 2019, Stockholm, Sweden


This symposium, co-organised by PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Prof. Thomas Speck and PlaMatSu Co-Principal Investigator Dr Marc Thielen, focused on what can be learnt from natural materials and how they can be used to help solve challenges in the 21st century. It was part of the larger EUROMAT Congress and Exhibition, which brings together colleagues working in the field of materials science and technology in Europe.

For further information, visit: https://euromat2019.fems.eu/

Functional Materials Session at the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) 2018 Spring Meeting

18-22 June 2018, Strasbourg, France


This session on Advanced Materials and Architecture for Organic, Printable and Bio-inspired Photonics specifically, was co-organised by PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Prof. Silvia Vignolini. PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Prof. Ullrich Steiner gave an invited lecture, and PlaMatSu ESR Johannes Bergmann won a prize for Best Poster at one of the conference sessions..

For further information, visit: https://www.european-mrs.com/advanced-materials-and-architecture-organic-printable-and-bio-inspired-photonics-emrs

Bio-inspired Session at the 2017 Swiss NanoConvention

1-2 June 2017, Fribourg, Switzerland


In consequence of its involvement in this event, PlaMatSu was mentioned in several publications covering this conference. These communications targeted mainly the scientific public working on similar subjects as PlaMatSu. PlaMatSu's Member of the Scientific and Advisory Board Prof. Christoph Neinhuis (TU Dresden), and Dr. Georg Bauer, senior scientist from the group of PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Prof. Thomas Speck, gave invited lectures in a session chaired by PlaMatSu Project Coordinator Prof. Nico Bruns.

For further information, visit: http://swissnanoconvention.ch/2017/