“The nature of the scallop shell could serve as a model for materials that have to function at particularly low temperatures”


Dr. Konrad Meister grew up far away from the wilderness, in the Ruhr region. In his doctoral thesis, the biochemist and physical chemist investigated antifreeze proteins that ensure the survival of fish in the Antarctic. “A collaborator invited me to go on a polar expedition,” he says. Since then, Meister, 39, has been to the Antarctic four times, including during his time at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. Today, Meister lives in Alaska and teaches at the university in the state capital, Juneau.


Icing causes problems in many types of technology, such as aircraft wings and solar cells. As a bionics scientist, Konrad Meister recognized the potential of a phenomenon that he happened to observe with colleagues in Antarctica: The scallop Adamussium colbecki has a surface with a particularly fine structure to which ice crystals do not stick. “The nature of the shell could serve as a model for materials that have to function at particularly low temperatures,” says the researcher.

Photo: Paul A. Cziko


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