Description of impactBone is a living composite material, essential for our existence as it provides support and protection for our tissues. It comprises a hierarchical arrangement of collagen type I, arranged into fibrils and fibers that are mineralized with calcium phosphate. The mineralized collagen fibril is the basic building block of our bones. Collagen molecules are produced by bone forming cells (osteoblasts). During the secretion of collagen type I, the osteoblasts also secret non-collagenous proteins (NCPs) that regulate the mineralization process. The hierarchical organization of collagen fibrils from the nanometer to the millimeter scale, together with its intimate interaction with the mineral, govern the mechanical properties of bones. Due to the complexity of the processes involved, many questions remain regarding the mechanisms involved in collagen organization and mineralization. We use an in vitro model system to create a living bone-like tissue. By combining advanced electron microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and spectroscopic methods the different aspects of bone formation processes are analyzed from the micrometer to the nanometer scales. The new knowledge gained by this research will help for future material design in biomedical applications such as bone implants and regenerative therapy.
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