Modern microscopes, such as advanced electron microscopy instruments, can in principle investigate material structures down to the atomic level. In SuMo we focus our material characterization on materials that are of interest to our member companies. To characterize soft biomaterials at the nano and micrometer length scale is, however, a highly challenging task that requires an interdisciplinary approach. SuMo is therefore collaborating with the SOFT Microscopy Centre at the physics department at Chalmers, which is a strategic initiative at Chalmers working together with SIK, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology. The aim is to create a world leading research organization in the field of biomaterials and soft biomaterials characterization by microscopy techniques. SuMo and SOFT Microscopy centre work together to develop both instrumental hardware and preparation techniques that enable the characterization of both structure and dynamics in soft biomaterials at nanometer length scale.
The resolution in electron-beam instruments is often limited by the presence of water. One of the goals of our combined efforts in SuMo is, therefore, to be able to understand the uptake and release of water in soft biomaterials with molecular level resolution. Another important research goal is to develop electron tomography methods for characterizing 3-dimensional structures, the main challenge being to minimize the effect of the very high energy of the electron beam passing through the material. We are also developing spatial and spatio-temporal models for these material structures. The work performed in this module will serve as an important integrating part in combining the four research modules into innovative ways of working together to reach the overall goal of SuMo, namely to understand the predictiveness with respect to mass transport in water-containing soft biomaterials. We are also interested in the properties of cellulose, e.g. nanocrystalline cellulose, in different states, the properties of water and ice in bakery products and the growth and invasion of cancer cells.