BSc minor Bionanotechnology (WUBNT)

Nanostructures are present everywhere in biological systems, from proteins to cytoskeletons and from molecular motors to nanopatterned leaves, and have specific structural or more complex functions.

Continue to an overview of the courses in this minor

In the past decades, also non-biological nanostructures have gained wide attention, from bio-mimetic structures like hydrophobic 'self-cleaning' surfaces, to self-assembling and self-healing materials. Non-natural nanomaterials can also be found in biological systems, e.g. through uptake from polluted soil or through deliberate administration. The understanding of interactions of these non-natural nanosystems with bio-molecules and structures is of paramount importance, not only for medicinal purposes, but also for understanding nanotoxicological aspects. There are two main strategies to make nanoscale materials, the top-down and the bottom-up approach, and both will be covered in theory as well as hands-on in practical classes. The top down strategy is a more (microtechnological) engineering approach; the bottom-up approach finds its base in self-assembly and supramolecular chemistry.

In this minor we will touch on the various areas where nanomaterials play a role in plants and organisms, as well as in new (hard and soft) materials. In the 'Bionanotechnology; Introduction' course, the emphasis is on biological, bio-mimetic, bio-inspired or newly developed nanomaterials; particularly stimuli-responsive or sensing nanoparticles and functional surfaces will be treated. Analytical techniques play a crucial role in bionanotechnology and its applications, and ample attention will be given to on optical, magnetic resonance and electron spectroscopy & microscopy imaging ttools. In the 'BioNanotechnology; Sensors & Devices' course the focus is more on top-down fabrication of integrated nanosensors, microfluidics 3D printing and microprocessor interfacing. In the master-course 'Bionanotechnology: Nanomedicine', the focus is more explicitly on applications of nanomaterials in medicinal applications, from diagnostics devices, such as wearables, to and antibacterial platforms, and from crop-protection to clinical diagnostic, therapeutic and multimodality applications. An overarching course 'Integrated BioNanoTechnology' will combine the synthesis and characterization of heavy-metal based nanoparticles in biological systems like plants. Also ethical aspects of bionanotechnology research and applications will be covered.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this minor students are expected to be able to:

  • recognize and discriminate natural and non-natural nanomaterials;
  • synthesize and characterize nanomaterials, e.g. nanoparticles, dendrimers, micelles;
  • judge the difference between covalent and non-covalent functionalization routes;
  • tell the difference between top-down and bottom-up nanofabrication;
  • design & apply strategies to functionalize surfaces for sensor and other applications;
  • discuss the aspects of medicinal, respectively, toxicological effects of nanomaterials;
  • critically evaluate the potential and ethical aspects of Bionanotechnology.

Target group

This minor is interesting for WU-students of the BSc programmes:

  • BML Molecular Life Sciences
  • BBT Biotechnology
  • BBI-A Biology - major Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BPW-A Plant Sciences – major Plant Genomics and Health.

Also for students from other BSc programmes who are interested in Bionantechnology, like BSc chemistry/chemical technology (other universities), BSc Molecular life sciences (RU) BSc Molecular Science and Technology (Delft/Leiden).

Assumed knowledge

ORC-11806 Analytical Methods in Organic Chemistry
PPC-12303 &  PPC-12403 General Chemistry 1 & 2
ORC-12803 & ORC-12903 Organic Chemistry 1 & 2
MIB-10306 Microbiology and Biochemistry

Overlapping courses or content with

BVG Nutrition and Health
BBI-A Biology – major Cell and Molecular Biology.




First semester (period 1, 2 and 3)

Thematic or programme

Thematic minor