Biomimetic membranes as a technology platform: Challenges and opportunities

Claus Hélix-Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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    Biomimetic membranes are attracting increased attention due to the huge potential of using biological functional components and processes as an inspirational basis for technology development. Indeed, this has led to several new membrane designs and applications. However, there are still a number of issues which need attention. Here, I will discuss three examples of biomimetic membrane developments within the areas of water treatment, energy conversion, and biomedicine with a focus on challenges and applicability. While the water treatment area has witnessed some progress in developing biomimetic membranes of which some are now commercially available, other areas are still far from being translated into technology. For energy conversion, there has been much focus on using bacteriorhodopsin proteins, but energy densities have so far not reached sufficient levels to be competitive with state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells. For biomedical (e.g., drug delivery) applications the research focus has been on the mechanism of action, and much less on the delivery ‘per se’. Thus, in order for these areas to move forward, we need to address some hard questions: is bacteriorhodopsin really the optimal light harvester to be used in energy conversion? And how do we ensure that biomedical nano-carriers covered with biomimetic membrane material ever reach their target cells/tissue in sufficient quantities? In addition to these area-specific questions the general issue of production cost and scalability must also be treated in order to ensure efficient translation of biomimetic membrane concepts into reality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number44
    Issue number3
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Water Treatment Techniques
    • Biotechnology
    • Energy Conversion
    • Electric Batteries
    • Chemical Operations
    • Aquaporin
    • Biomedicine
    • Biomimetic
    • Energy-conversion
    • Sensing
    • Separation
    • Biomimetics
    • Controlled drug delivery
    • Energy conversion
    • Membrane technology
    • Photoelectrochemical cells
    • Photovoltaic cells
    • Targeted drug delivery
    • Water treatment
    • Aquaporins
    • Biomimetic membrane
    • Functional components
    • Mechanism of action
    • Technology development
    • Technology platforms
    • Biomimetic processes


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