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Henrik Birkedal

Henrik Birkedal

Professor Department of Chemistry


  • Biological materials
  • Bioinspired materials
  • Synchrotrons and neutrons
  • Crystallography
  • Synchrotron imaging
  • Multimodal (diffraction/scattering/fluorescence) X-ray tomography
  • Bone
  • Hydrogels,
  • Responsive materials
  • Self-organization
  • Coacervates


Head of Biological and Bioinspired Materials Group

Professor Henrik Birkedal
PhD in Physics

Learning materials chemistry from biology

We study the structure and properties of biological materials and perform syntheses of bioinspired materials using lessons learnt from biology. 

We study biological materials to understand the connection between their structure and function. Many of these hierarchical materials contain inorganic crystals organized in 3D within an organic matrix. We work primarily on bone and various model organisms for interesting materials behavior, e.g. underwater attachment. We use a wide range of experimental approaches. X-ray based scattering, diffraction and imaging methods form the center piece of our experimental platform, and we are avid users of synchrotron radiation. In this regard we further combine imaging methodologies.

We make several types of bioinspired materials using green reactions in liquid water. We employ coordination chemistry to make self-healing hydrogel materials whose properties are tuned by controlling the balance between covalent network formation and coordination chemistry crosslinking. This allows us to obtain self-healing materials with controlled properties. Bioinspired crystallization is used to make nanocrystalline phosphates, oxides and other materials. As an essential aspect of this effort, we study crystallization mechanisms, e.g. using in situ X-ray scattering and diffraction.

Aspects of our work have an applied focus and involve collaborations with academics, researchers at hospitals and/or industry partners.

Recent publications