Lecture series on Biomimetics


Lecturer(s) :

Lingenfelder Magalí Alejandra
Various lecturers




Every year


Next time: Spring


This course gives a comprehensive view of Biomimetics, with especial focus and hierarchical structure-function relationships. We explore the physical principles of bioinspired nanostructures and biomechanics, and their application to the design of creative and sustainable materials.


Nature has achieved effective hierarchical architectures and smart response to stimuli through more than four billion years of evolution. In this course,  we will discuss  both natural and bioinspired systems from their fundamental physical chemistry properties, the factors determining its nucleation and growth across different scales,  and their applications.
The course offers a broad program on structure-function of biomimetic systems with speakers from EFFL and other top universities in Switzerland, Europe and the United States (via zoom). It is intended to be interesting for physicists, chemists, and material scientists.


The lectures cover the following topics:


- Nucleation and growth from a physicist perspective
- Bioelectricity
- Biopolymers and bioinspired polymers
- Chiral nanostructures
- Self cleaning interfaces: structural hidrophobicity
- Nanophotonics and metamaterials, structural colors in Nature
- Bioinspired Antimicrobial surfaces
- Nanopores and energy flow
- Microfluidics in bioinspired drops
- Principles of Natural and artificial photosynthesis
- Self-healing systems
' Mechanisms of pattern formation and self-assembly across different length scales
' Bioinspired block-copolymer thin films and nano/micro particles
' Smart nanostructured materials (responsive to light, pH, heat, etc).
' Deciphering and tuning biomineralization  


Each of the invited speakers will deliver two 45-minute presentations:


  - first, a tutorial lecture on the fundamental principles of their research topic (the basics)
  - followed by a talk on their current research (focusing on the highlights). Total: 2h lecture, including Q&A.


EPFL lecturers Spring 2021:
Prof. Aleksandra Radenovic (confirmed), Prof.  Esther Amstad (confirmed), Prof. Harm-Anton Klok (confirmed)


For the Spring semester 2021 we have the following external invited speakers:


Prof. Nicholas Kotov (Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan) (confirmed)
Prof. James De Yoreo (Physical Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington, USA) (confirmed)
Prof. Michael Mayer (Chair Biophysics, Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Switzerland) (confirmed)
Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga (Department of Health Sciences & Technology & Department of Materials, ETHZ, Switzerland) (confirmed)
Prof. Ullrich Steiner (Soft Matter Physics, Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Switzerland) (confirmed)
Prof. Thomas Speck  (Functional Morphology and Biomimetics, Institute for Biology II, University of Freiburg, Germany) (confirmed)




The course is intended to run only on the spring semester, the main topics remain but invited speakers might be updated from year to year.

Students from Physics, Chemistry and Materials Science can benefit from this course.


biomimetics, biomimicry, biophysics, nanoscience, biointerfaces, chirality, bioelectricity, self-assembly

Learning Prerequisites

Required courses

Students need to have a basic background in Physics, Chemistry and Materials Science to follow this course, and be interested in multidisciplinary research.

Expected student activities

' Interpret structure-function relationships in Nature and its application to design artificial systems.
' Understand the physical principles of nucleation and growth, energy transfer, symmetry and structure in different biological scenarios.
' Be inspired by nature to design sustainable artificial systems.


Transversal skills
' Communicate with professionals from different backgrounds in Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Material Science.
' Identify synergies and foster 'bottom-up' collaborations across different fields.
' Identify complementary skills that could strengthen the interaction and creativity in their own PhD research.

Participation in class and discussion
Bibliographic research
Group case study



-Institute of Physics. Bioinspiration &, Biomimetics : Learning from Nature (2006). Web.
-B. Bhushan, Biomimetics: Bioinspired Hierarchical-Structured Surfaces for Green Science and Technology, Springer, 2018, ISBN 978-3-319-71676-3.
-Research papers from each group presenting during the current semester

Ressources en bibliothèque

In the programs

    • Semester
    • Exam form
       Oral presentation
    • Credits
    • Subject examined
      Lecture series on Biomimetics
    • Number of places
    • Lecture
      24 Hour(s)
    • Practical work
      8 Hour(s)

Reference week

      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German