Bio-inspired, bio-mimic, and bio-based materials
Nature always offers scientists role models and ideas on developing new materials because naturally occurring biochemical systems are elegantly “designed” and exhibit superior performances in terms of physical properties and catalytic activities. Therefore, chemists are seeking ways to artificially replicate, at least part of, these complex biochemical systems by synthetic means. Furthermore, starting from naturally occurring materials, especially those usually considered as waste, is particularly attractive in terms of cost, safety, and sustainability.
Recent research directions
Mimicking [FeFe] hydrogenase link1 link2
[FeFe] hydrogenases are the most efficient enzyme to generate hydrogen gas by photochemical reaction. Unlike the industrial generation of hydrogen requiring the use of electricity and expensive platinum catalysts, [FeFe] hydrogenases contain one iron(I) core and one iron(II) core in its oxidized state and are photochemically driven.
Making catalytic production of hydrogen more efficient and affordable means that fuel cells, which are considered green, stable, and efficient, are more likely to become one of the main sources of energy.
Over the years, researchers have prepared many kinds of catalysts mimicking the active site and the protein environment.
Synthetic proteins as medicines link
Proteins produced by pure synthetic means are used in immunotherapy and treat autoimmune diseases. While the typical method failed to modify proteins very specifically, synthetic chemistry allows fine-tuning of the product.
Synthesizing calcium-based MOF from eggshell and PET plastic bottles link
Researchers reported the simple yet successful synthesis of calcium-based metal-organic framework (MOF) by shaking eggshell and benzene-1,4-dicarboxylate (BDC) obtained by hydrolysis of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles. Calcium-based MOFs were reported to perform satisfactorily in separating gases and alkanes in other studies. It is also a potential candidate in biological applications due to its biocompatibility and low toxicity.
Leaf-inspired material moves liquids with different surface tensions to opposite directions link
A synthetic material that resembles the ratcheted and spiralized leaves of the araucaria plant was fabricated by 3D printing. It is reported that ethanol and water were always directed towards opposite directions along the branch simultaneously when poured on the surface like on the real araucaria plant because of capillary actions and intermolecular forces.
More bio-inspired materials are introduced here.