Biopolymer Chemistry and Bionanotechnology
When individual organic molecules are joined together in long chains, polymers are formed which have distinctly different characteristics in comparison to the smaller starting materials. The most important bio-polymers are DNA and RNA, proteins and polysaccharides. The building blocks for these molecules are respectively nucleotides, amino acids and carbohydrates (sugars). Here at the Dept of Biotechnology we have a very active and enthusiastic milieu which has specialized in polysaccharides from marine brown algae (alginates), shellfish (chitosans) plus selected plant polysacchides such as sphangan, as well as fish collagen. These compounds have many established industrial applications, but new areas for application such as medicine and pharmaceuticals are of increasing interest and importance.
We study biopolymers' genetics and biosynthesis as well as the enormous variability in their chemical structures. In particular we focus on the relation between structure and polymer characteristics- how they interact with other molecules, how they form solutions and gels with special characteristics etc. The educational program is built up around this. It includes both the basic chemistry of biopolymers, their physical traits as well as methods for characterizing them.
This area of study is very interdisciplinary in nature and has lead to close collaboration with other departments and scientific groups. Recently the groups studying biopolymers were awarded by the National Research Council the status of "Centre for Biopolymer Engineering at NTNU". This means increased activity for both research and education, with more students, doctoral candidates and post-doctoral candidates. Our students are brought quickly into contact with research and development projects through selected laboratory exercises, short project studies and theses at the Bachelors and Masters level. Furthermore, students actively participate in our collaborations with industry, both nationally and internationally.
Welcome all interested students to an exciting area of research where NTNU is the leading university in Norway!