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It is fascinating to see snowflakes grow into beautiful six-sided structures. But snow and ice can cause a lot of discomforts and problems, like frozen car windows, grainy ice cream and damage to cells and tissue. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could prevent this by regulating the shape and size of ice crystals? In the future we could then preserve cells, tissue and organs in a better way. I like to be inspired by nature to achieve this. For example, an icefish doesn’t freeze to death in the ice cold waters of the South Pole by creating anti-freeze proteins. We are unraveling the working mechanism of these ice-binding proteins to create new materials that imitate this mechanism, to make ice crystals smaller and less pointy. That way, we hope in the future to be able to limit freezing damage and preserve organs longer for transplantations. And who knows, maybe scraping the ice of your windshield will become a piece of cake.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SOUTH POLE FISH
ILJA VOETSPROFILE
Eindhoven University of Technology

An icefish doesn’t freeze to death in the ice cold waters of the South pole by creating anti-freeze proteins. Ilja Voets is unraveling the working mechanism of these proteins to create new materials that imitate this function.

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