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Personal profile


"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."

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.

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Research Output 1991 2019

A biomimetic model for mineralization of type-I collagen fibrils

Yao, S., Xu, Y., Shao, C., Nudelman, F., Sommerdijk, N. A. J. M. & Tang, R., 1 Jan 2019, Collagen: Methods and protocols. Sagi, I. & Afratis, N. A. (eds.). Springer, p. 39-54 16 p. (Methods in Molecular Biology; vol. 1944)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Collagen Type I

Advanced EM study on catalyst formation processes

Su, H., 21 Feb 2019, Eindhoven: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. 149 p.

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)Academic

Open Access
2 Citations (Scopus)

Binary colloidal nanoparticle concentration gradients in a centrifugal field at high concentration

Xu, X., Franke, T., Schilling, K., Sommerdijk, N. A. J. M. & Cölfen, H., 2019, In : Nano Letters. 19, 2, p. 1136–1142

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Phase diagrams
1 Citation (Scopus)

Cryo-TEM and electron tomography reveal leaching-induced pore formation in ZSM-5 zeolite

Li, T., Wu, H., Ihli, J., Ma, Z., Krumeich, F., Bomans, P. H. H., Sommerdijk, N. A. J. M., Friedrich, H., Patterson, J. P. & Van Bokhoven, J. A., 1 Jan 2019, In : Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 7, 4, p. 1442-1446 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Transmission electron microscopy
Open Access
Bone Matrix
Bone Regeneration
Tissue Engineering
Extracellular Matrix
Bone and Bones


National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure : NEMI grant

Nico Sommerdijk (Recipient), 2018

Recognition: NWOOtherScientific

electron microscopy
electron microscopes

NWO Vici Award : The secrets of bones, teeth and shells

Nico Sommerdijk (Recipient), 2009

Recognition: NWOViciScientific

electron microscopy
mechanical property

RSC Soft Matter & Biophysical Chemistry Award 2015

Nico Sommerdijk (Recipient), 2015

Recognition: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific


Total picture of bone formation

Nico Sommerdijk (Recipient), 2018

Recognition: ERCAdvancedScientific

chemical analysis


DBL Molecules and materials

1/09/13 → …


Graduation Project MSMC

1/09/15 → …


Materials science

1/09/13 → …


Press / Media

Student theses

A detailed investigation on calcium carbonate solution precipitation: about cluster aggregation

Author: Smeets, P., 30 Jun 2011

Supervisor: Habraken, W. (Supervisor 1), Nudelman, F. (Supervisor 2) & Sommerdijk, N. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

A modular approach to bioactive scaffolds using supramolecular polymers

Author: Hermans, T., 28 Feb 2006

Supervisor: Dankers, P. (Supervisor 1), Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2), Bastiaansen, C. (Supervisor 2) & Sommerdijk, N. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

A polymer-based route to photonic metamaterials

Author: van Hulle, M., 30 Sep 2015

Supervisor: Sommerdijk, N. (Supervisor 1) & Wirix, M. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Biohybrid nanocomposites: mimicking nature to control calcium carbonate crystallization

Author: Peeters, M., 30 Nov 2009

Supervisor: Habraken, G. (Supervisor 1), Koning, C. (Supervisor 2) & Sommerdijk, N. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Chemically induced alignment of muscle fibers

Author: Lems, R., 28 Feb 2002

Supervisor: Sommerdijk, N. (Supervisor 1), Bouten, C. (Supervisor 2) & Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master