Full Professor

Nico Sommerdijk

Biominerals such as our bones, teeth and seashells have fascinating structures and functions. I want to understand how these are made, and be able to make our own clever materials.

Group / Unit
Materials and interface Chemistry
Floor / room

Research Profile

Nico Sommerdijk leads the research group Materials and Interface Chemistry at the department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. His research focusses on understanding the interactions between organic and inorganic materials in the formation of biominerals with complex hierarchical structures and remarkable properties, such as bones, teeth and seashells. He investigates these mineralization processes using in vitro model systems and advanced electron microscopic techniques, unraveling the underlying mechanisms from the micron scale down to the molecular level. The in vitro systems he uses to study the processes relevant to biomineralization include self-assembling biomacromolecules such as collagen, but also cell culture systems. Taking inspiration from biological examples he also studies how in synthetic environments different (bio)macromolecules and inorganic components can assemble to form generate new bio-inspired and multiscale materials. Electron microscopy is used to morphologically and structurally characterize these soft and hybrid materials in different stages of their formation process with a focus on using cryoTEM and liquid phase EM. The group has in particular pioneered the use of cryo-electron tomography (3D cryoTEM) revealing unprecedented details of self-assembly, nucleation and growth processes. The expertise and infrastructure for these electron microscopic investigations is organized within the Center for Multiscale Electron Microscopy.

Academic Background

Nico Sommerdijk studied chemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen. In 1995 he obtained his PhD (cum laude) at the same university on his thesis 'Tuning the molecular organisation of amphiphilic molecules' supervised by Prof. Roeland Nolte and Prof. Binne Zwanenburg. After post doctoral work on sol-gel based silicates with Dr. John Wright (University of Kent - UK) and on bio-inspired crystallization with Prof. Brigid Heywood (Keele University - UK), he returned to Nijmegen in 1997 to work on (macro)molecular self-assembly and bio-inspired mineralization. In 1999 Sommerdijk moved to Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) where he was appointed assistant professor in 2000. In 2008 he became associate professor and in 2014 he was appointed full professor in Bio-inspired and Multiscale Materials. Prof. Sommerdijk leads the Laboratory of Materials and Interface Chemistry at TU/e and is the scientific director of the Center for Multiscale Electron Microscopy. His work has been supported by several personal grants including a VIDI Award (2006) and a VICI Award (2010) from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO.

Educational Activities

  • Materials science
  • Standard final bachelor project ST
  • Natural versus synthetic materials 2.0
  • Physical chemistry of soft matter
  • Nanomaterials: chemistry and fabrication
  • Capita selecta

Ancillary Activities

  • //www.e-microscopy.nl/, NEMI - Netherlands Electron Microscopy Infrastructure (NEMI)
  • Bestuurslid - algemeen lid, material science, NVvM - Nederlandse Vereniging voor Microscopie