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Soft Matter and Biomicroscopy

FELMI-ZFE has a long tradition of cutting edge research in the field of real-time and in situ characterisation of bio-degradable and bio-compatible materials. During the past decades these materials have gained more and more importance due to environmental protection and medical sciences issues. Current core activities are 3D investigations of neuronal networks, microfiltration membranes and crack propagation in polymers. In situ characterisation of enzymatic cellulose degradation in real-time as well as in situ testing of membranes and polymers have become major research areas. 3D sectioning / imaging / reconstruction aspects under static, dynamic and even cryogenic conditions allow us to get a comprehensive insight into material properties at the micro- and nanoscale. Against this challenging background we are driven by the desire to move beyond current limitations.

3D reconstruction (scale bar: 5 µm) of part of a neuron of the neural network active in the processing of signals from a locust eye using serial blockface scanning electron microscopy (SBEM) and showing the distribution of the afferent synaptic connections (yellow).
[Cooperation with the Medical University of Graz]

Single enzyme imaging (arrows) on cellulose surfaces via AFM high-resolution imaging in liquid conditions (a) cross confirmed via material sensitive phase imaging (b). This method also allows dynamic real-time investigations in liquid environments revealing enzymatic activities with site-specific (amorphous / crystalline) information (c).