Expanding Biomaterial Surface Topographical Design Space through Natural Surface Reproduction

Steven Vermeulen, Floris Honig, Aliaksei Vasilevich, Nadia Roumans, Manuel Romero, Aysegul Dede Eren, Urnaa Tuvshindorj, Morgan Alexander, Aurélie Carlier, Paul Williams, Jorge Uquillas, Jan de Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


Surface topography is a tool to endow biomaterials with bioactive properties. However, the large number of possible designs makes it challenging to find the optimal surface structure to induce a specific cell response. The TopoChip platform is currently the largest collection of topographies with 2176 in silico designed microtopographies. Still, it is exploring only a small part of the design space due to design algorithm limitations and the surface engineering strategy. Inspired by the diversity of natural surfaces, it is assessed as to what extent the topographical design space and consequently the resulting cellular responses can be expanded using natural surfaces. To this end, 26 plant and insect surfaces are replicated in polystyrene and their surface properties are quantified using white light interferometry. Through machine-learning algorithms, it is demonstrated that natural surfaces extend the design space of the TopoChip, which coincides with distinct morphological and focal adhesion profiles in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonization. Furthermore, differentiation experiments reveal the strong potential of the holy lotus to improve osteogenesis in MSCs. In the future, the design algorithms will be trained with the results obtained by natural surface imprint experiments to explore the bioactive properties of novel surface topographies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2102084
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number31
Early online date24 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.V., A.V., N.R., A.D.‐E., A.C., U.T., and J.d.B. acknowledge the financial support of the Dutch province of Limburg. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska‐Curie Grant Agreement No. 676338. This work was also supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK (Grant No. EP/N0016615/1) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK (Grant No. BB/R012415/1). A.C. kindly acknowledges the Dutch province of Limburg in the LINK (FCL67723) (“Limburg Investeert in haar Kenniseconomie”) knowledge economy project and a VENI grant (No. 15075) from the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO). The authors thank the botanical garden “Hortus Botanicus” of Leiden, the Netherlands, for the donation of plant species and Louay Waked for his help in material fabrication. S.V. kindly acknowledges Daniel Pereira for providing advice in fabrication and material fabrication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Advanced Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • bacterial attachment
  • cell morphology
  • design space
  • microtopographies
  • natural surfaces
  • TopoChip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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