The objectives of this project are to measure, understand, and use the relationships among composition, structure, and performance associated with self-assembled soft biological materials, dense composite materials, and light-weight architectures to develop materials with improved properties. In particular, we have made significant progress in the design, simulation, analysis, and synthesis/processing of self-assembled melanin-protein composites, functional copolymers, and patterned engineering materials. Our work has specifically focused on:
Characterizing the atomic-level compositions and structures that account for the exceptional abrasion resistance of melanin-protein composites, such as found in the jaws of the marine worm Glycera dibranchiate
The adaptation of 3D printing protocols to tailor-made polypeptides via ring opening of N-carboxyanhydrides and cross-linking of polysaccharides.
The understanding of new morphological phases that have been previously only observed in metal alloys.
We seek to complete syntheses and characterization of a library of multi-component soft materials that will enable us to establish the design and architectural criteria for their translation into composite and/or anisotropic materials with well-defined, nanoscale 3D structural units.