Antifreeze proteins: from mechanism to material
Controlling ice crystal growth is a grand scientific challenge with major technological ramifications. We take inspiration from natural cryoprotective biopolymers, so-called ice binding proteins (IBPs) to develop novel polymeric antifreeze agents for application in biomedicine and materials science. IBPs are produced in fish, insects, microorganisms and plants as an essential coping strategy to survive at subzero temperatures. We study how IBPs block ice crystal growth by binding onto specific ice crystal planes using state-of-the-art physico-chemical experiments and activity assays. These fundamental studies provide the essential insight for the knowledge-based design of potent synthetic ice crystal growth modifiers for de-icing and cryopreservation applications.