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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
KPO045 - Biological materials
Biologiska material
Syllabus adopted 2020-02-19 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPBIO
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering

Teaching language: English
Application code: 08140
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: A+
Maximum participants: 30

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0199 Examination 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c   11 Jan 2021 pm J   08 Apr 2021 am J,  27 Aug 2021 am J

In programs

MPMCN MATERIALS CHEMISTRY, MSC PROGR, Year 2 (compulsory elective)
MPMCN MATERIALS CHEMISTRY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)
MPBIO BIOTECHNOLOGY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)
MPBIO BIOTECHNOLOGY, MSC PROGR, Year 2 (compulsory elective)


Tiina Nypelö

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General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Courses in chemical and mechanical engineering.


The aim of this course is gain knowledge about materials of biological origin. Two types of material groups are explored: structural materials synthetized by nature and structural materials that are constructed from building blocks of biological origin. The intention of the course is to bridge gap between biology, physics and chemistry. We will explore chemical structure of biopolymers, illustrating how their composition determines mechanical properties of the materials in which they occur. We will discuss the use of materials of biological origin in materials engineering and how biomimetics and bionics can be applied in developing new materials.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

List the main characteristics of biopolymers and biominerals
List differences between structure of synthetic polymers and biopolymers
Explain what determines the structure and properties of proteins
Describe main polysaccharides and their structure
List main analytical techniques relevant for biological materials
Describe uses of wood-based compounds in materials engineering
List the mechanical tests used to assess the end use and the mechanical properties of biological materials
Predict the fracture mechanics of biological materials
Describe the mechanism of reinforcement in man-made and biological composites
Describe the concepts of biomimetics and bionics
Identify a biomimetic design
Describe processes to manufacture materials from building blocks of biological origin
Relate the structure and composition of biological materials with their mechanical properties and the significance for biologically inspired engineering materials and biomimetics
Plan, execute and report an experimental engineering design as a part of a team
Select and defend a bio-based material design

Additionally, this course aims to provide entrepreneurial experiences according to Chalmers definition including 1) that students create value (economical, ecological, social, mental, physiological, etc.) for others 2) understand and idea development process and 3) through these activities have managed uncertainty and reflected on one's own and others' capabilities. The entrepreneurial experience is provided through a compulsory group projects.


Many material systems found in nature exhibit a combination of properties that is not found in synthetic systems. The unique performance of natural materials arises from the hierarchical organization over a large range of length scales. These materials display unique properties that are affected by structure and generative processes at all levels of the biological structural hierarchy. Structure of biological materials is mimicked for biomimetic/bionics design to transfer the performance in engineered materials. Additionally, materials of biological origin are increasingly used in materials engineering due to the renewable and sustainable character. The following subjects will be discussed in lectures:
Mechanical testing and visualization of biological materials
Structure and failure mechanisms of biological materials
Biomimetic material design
Biomimetic engineered surfaces
Biopolymers and minerals
Wood as source for materials engineering building blocks
Manufacturing, e.g., fiber spinning
In addition to series of lectures students will participate in projects in groups in which they will make experiments with biological materials.


Lectures, seminar presentation, laboratory project work and project presentation.


Chapters from:
  • Meyers, Marc Andre; Chen, Po-Yun. Biological Materials Science: Biological Materials, Bioinspired Materials, and Biomaterials. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Lee, Michelle, ed. Remarkable natural material surfaces and their engineering potential. Springer Science & Business Media, 2014. 
Lecture slides
Scientific articles

Examination including compulsory elements

For an approved course, approved results are required on the exam (in writing), as well as an approved project report and project report. Grading scale U, 3, 4 or 5

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.