Nature has always been a formidable source of inspiration for human technology and scientists, starting as early as the antiquity. In the 19th century, attempts to build flying machines aimed at copying flapping wings of a bird. This interest continued all along the 20th century in many areas of science and technology, with Materials Sciences being at the front line of such efforts. In the past decade this interest has shifted from macroscopic structures towards gaining inspiration from increasingly smaller scales blocks of living organisms.
At the Laboratory for Biological and Biomimetic Materials (BBML) led by Asst. Prof. Ali Miserez, we are focusing on studying biological materials that feature unique properties –or combination of– currently not achieved in man-made materials and that are multifunctional. A critical motivation in studying biological material is their energy-efficient synthesis: in comparison to engineering materials living organism process complex, tailored, and structural materials in an aqueous environment, at ambient temperatures and pressure (or less), and using natural compounds. Understanding this “green chemistry” potentially offers numerous alternatives to current material synthesis and processing. These materials are increasingly being recognized as model systems to solve engineering or health-related issues, for instance in tissue engineering applications. Our long-term vision is to use synthetic strategies that mimic key structural, biochemical and physico-chemical principles discovered in our model systems.
Fig : The BBML lab at NTU is studying a variety of biological materials, with an emphasis on extra cellular tissues from marine invertebrates. We are tackling bio-inspired materials engineering from multiple angles, combining physical sciences (including materials and structural characterization at multiple scales and structure/property relationships) with a life sciences approach (protein isolation, biochemistry, molecular biology).
More specific details on our current research project can be found here. We encourage potential students, researchers, and collaborators to browse through these pages.
Selected links on bioinspired engineering and biomimetic:
Suggested readings (Books and relevant reviews)
- 1. Vogel, S. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World (Princeton University Press, 2003).
- 2. Neville, A. C. Biology of Fibrous Composites: Development beyond the Cell Membrane (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K, 1993).
- 3. Meyers, M. A., Chen, P. Y., Lin, A. Y. M. & Seki, Y. Biological Materials: Structure and Mechanical Properties. Progress in Materials Science 53, 1-206 (2008).
- 4. Huebsch, N. & Mooney, D. J. Inspiration and Application in the Evolution of Biomaterials. Nature 462, 426-432 (2009).
- 5. Fratzl, P. & Aizenberg, J. Advanced Materials: Special Issue on Biological and Biomimetic Materials 21 (2009).
- 6. Fratzl, P. & Dunlop, J. Biological Composites. Annual Reviews of Materials Research 40, 1–24 (2010).