Self-Assembled Networks of Biological Membranes
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Biologically inspired materials attempt to replicate the elegant engineering solutions observed in the natural world. Observing that many of these solutions are multiscale hierarchical structures comprised of nature’s building block, the cell, a new class of stimuli-responsive materials is proposed based on cellular capabilities. While fully replicating cellular functionality is well beyond the scope of any laboratory, we examine this concept through the creation of synthetic cellular membranes in complex arrangements, combining emulsions, interfacial chemistry, and digital microfluidics. This envisioned material platform has been successfully applied towards the creation of biological sensors, actuators and energy harvesters, but there is ample room for improvement in the concept. This presentation focuses on better understanding the underlying mechanics of the membrane networks in order to improve their stability, durability, and reliability in non-laboratory environments, promoting their adoption as novel engineering materials. This is accomplished by investigating new methods for solidifying the networks, creating models for their behavior under mechanical constraints, and investigating non-contact methods for their manipulation.
- Nano@Tech Lecture Series