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Mechanomutable Heteronanomaterials

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Research Goals:

This IRG proposes to develop a new class of "mechanomutable heteronanomaterials," which we define as possessing spatially localized and controlled nanoscale units of different types of materials that change their mechanical properties reversibly in response to an external stimulus. This research will significantly advance the existing body of literature on responsive materials, which are typically single and two component systems (e.g. hydrogels, magnetorheological elastomers, shape memory alloys, piezoelectrics) that have been focused on actuation, swelling, and controlled permeability. The use of heteronanostructures provides many exciting possibilities for mechanomutable materials design that have not yet been realized; in particular high spatial resolution interactions with nanoscale objects and unique and amplified mechanical robustness. For this reason, we plan to explore the possibility of utilizing these materials as high-throughput, high spatial sensitivity tunable sensors (e.g. for cells, proteins, localized impacts, and pressure in liquids).

 

Research Highlights:

Mechanomutable polymer tube forests
How the weak becomes strong: spider silk reveals a paradox of super-strength
Magnetically-responsive stiffness of carbon nanotube arrays

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