MSE Seminar: Biological materials, Biomaterials & Biomimetics: Emulating performance-defining...
Speaker: Ulrike G.K. Wegst, Associate Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth College
Title: Biological materials, Biomaterials, and Biomimetics: Emulating performance-defining features in bulk by freeze casting
The skilled use of biological materials and their striking mechanical efficiency, such as unique combinations of strength and toughness, have played a key role in the development of mankind and technology, and the course of history. The considerable advantage that we have over our ancestors, today, is that we cannot only successfully apply and use biological materials in their "native" state, but that we have tools to investigate and test them at almost all levels of their structural hierarchy to identify structure-property correlations and principles of function and optimization. Important challenges that persist are both the design of synthetic materials that mimic the performance-defining features of their natural counterparts and their fabrication in bulk with a fast and easy production process. One manufacturing process that shows promise is freeze casting, the directional solidification of water-based solutions and slurries; it offers a relatively fast route for self-assembled structures with complex architectures, whose hierarchical structures span dimensions from the nano- to the macroscale. Reviewed in this presentation will be common design motifs and the mechanical performance of a range of natural structural materials, resulting design requirements for biomaterials, and opportunities and challenges associated with the freeze casting process and its application to the large range of polymer, ceramic, metal, and hybrid materials that can be manufactured with it to mimic the attractive structural and mechanical characteristics of their natural counterparts. Described will be the different mechanisms that drive structure formation during processing by directional solidification and how these can be employed in the material’s structural and property optimization for biomedical and energy applications
Ulrike G.K. Wegst, Associate Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA, studied physics and materials science at the University of Göttingen, Germany and the University of Cambridge, UK. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Cambridge for the analysis of the mechanical performance of natural materials. Dr. Wegst worked on the CES Eco-Selector software at the University of Cambridge before moving to the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble in France and becoming a group leader and staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany. She was the Anne Stevens Assistant Professor at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA and is a Faculty Guest Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA. The research of her group focuses on structure-property-processing correlations in bio-inspired and freeze-cast materials, the basic science of freeze casting, and the design and manufacture of materials for biomedical and energy applications. In her teaching and outreach activities, she aims to enthuse for materials science and engineering through interdisciplinary projects that link materials science with sports, food science, the arts, and music.