The central topic of our research is to determine how molecules interact and self-assemble into higher order structures and provide an understanding of the mechanisms that lie behind. The knowledge is used for directing self-assembly and designing systems with controlled response that can be used, e.g., in drug delivery systems.
Self-assembly of molecules in solution is a fundamental process in living systems as well as in many commercial products. Many types of interactions (hydrophobic, electrostatic, hydrogen bonding …) can lead to self-assembly and the understanding of these interactions are crucial for the formation of stable particles and structures. Among the systems we investigate are block copolymer coacervate micelles, detergent-protein and lipid-protein complexes, and microemulsions. These all have applications in controlled drug delivery and may be designed to have responsive behavior, so that release can be triggered by, e.g. temperature, ionic strength or pH changes.
The main experimental technique used is small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), which provides the structure of the complexes and particles. The group operates two powerful in-house SAXS instruments, and also occasionally uses synchrotron SAXS for studies of very fast kinetics. The latest in-house SAXS from 2014 employs specially designed optics and uses a high intensity liquid metal jet X-ray source, and thus has a unique high flux, which allows fast measurements with a time resolution of a second.