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Swiss Society for Crystallography - Howard Flack Crystallographic Lectures Series

12. April 2021, 16:00 17:00 , Online via Zoom

Invited Talk

Bioinspired materials for functional foods


Speaker: Prof. Stefan Salentinig

Host: Prof. Dr. Antonia Neels, President of the Swiss Society for Crystallography SSCr



Fluid-like colloidal structures including liquid crystals are key components in nature’s own functional materials and important for a wide range of applications. Recently, the self-assembly of nature’s own complete diet, milk, into diverse liquid crystalline structures was discovered during its digestion. This was possible by the use of in situ time-resolved X-ray scattering and diffraction techniques at synchrotron sources, combined with an advanced in vitro digestion model that simulates the conditions in the human digestive tract. The discovered prototypical natural nanomaterials have implications for the design of novel adaptive materials including functional foods. They were blue-printed, for instance, to nano-architect delivery matrices for poorly water soluble bioactives and novel antimicrobials. This material design was guided by highly contemporary experimental methods including time-resolved (grazing incidence) small angle X-ray scattering and diffraction, imaging ellipsometry, confocal Raman microscopy as well as cryogenic electron microscopy and NMR techniques. Additional biological assays were used to bridge the boundaries from the molecular and structural to the cellular level. The detailed insights into the dynamic self-assembly of biomolecules to functional supramolecular structures provide essential knowledge for the comprehensive design of advanced food materials.


About the speaker


Stefan Salentinig is a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Fribourg, where he has established the Biocolloids lab, researching bio-inspired materials for functional foods and health applications. He holds a PhD in physical chemistry with a focus on colloids and scattering methods from the University of Graz, Austria, 2010. He then moved to Australia to take on a scientist position on functional nanomaterials at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Newcastle. In 2013 he became lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne working on nanoscale drug delivery systems, in close collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Research Organization (ANSTO) and the Australian Synchrotron. In 2015 he joined Empa in St. Gallen, Switzerland as a group leader on functional materials, before starting his current role at the University of Fribourg in 2019. His lab is highly active in the adaption and integration of X-ray scattering and diffraction techniques to advance the understanding of bio-materials from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. This is supported by a strong network of national and international collaborators at large-scale research facilities and labs.


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