Anchor peptide based monitoring of lightweight structures.
Bio4Monitoring aims to develop new approaches for monitoring the material condition of lightweight structures through the application of biobased coatings consisting of fluorescent anchor peptides (AP) that selectively bind (see below for a more detailed explanation). The two targeted applications are:
1. "PepCrack": A material-specific, fluorescent biobased coating system for early detection of cracks and defects in surface coatings of lightweight structures will be developed.
2. "BioMeasure": An associated automated measurement and data processing system is being developed. The BioMeasure system uses deep-learning algorithms to analyze the collected data (images of defects), and the performance of the model is iteratively improved by active learning strategies.
Especially for metallic structures in aerospace, a lot of effort is currently spent to detect cracks in protective coatings. A large part of these inspections is performed visually. The crack must be visible to the naked eye, which is a cost driver for regular inspection intervals. Simplified and automated crack detection could improve safety and increase the time intervals between inspections, with significant cost savings.
To overcome these issues, a biobased coating system based on anchor peptides is being developed as part of PepCrack to highlight the cracks. To make cracks visible, the fluorescent anchor peptides are additionally developed with the ability to selectively bind to the metallic surface but not to the coating. This is a simple and inexpensive system that allows the detection of small cracks at an early stage by simple fluorescence detection. This type of selective marking of cracks is unique and can be transferred to a wide range of application fields.
Anchor peptides are small molecules with sizes from 1 to 3 nm that form a material bond as a high density coating with various material surfaces, for example metals, alloys, polymers. The strength, specificity and reversibility of the bond can be adjusted. To make the bound anchor peptides visible, they are genetically linked to a fluorescent reporter molecule, for example green fluorescent protein. This coating is applied by simple spraying.
Within the framework of Bio4Monitoring, the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design contributes its expertise in experimental technology, structural mechanics and structural monitoring, and is primarily responsible for interpreting the measurement data. It is responsible for the execution and evaluation of all mechanical tests, as well as for the physics-based signal evaluation of the system to be developed.
The project combines the core competences of the partner institutions in the fields of protein engineering (ABBt), quantitative image data processing (LfB) and structural mechanics:
- Chair of Biotechnology of RWTH Aachen University (ABBt)
- Institute of Imaging and Computer Vision at RWTH Aachen University (LfB)
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the funding number 031B1155 / 031B1155X and supervised by Projektträger Jülich (PTJ).