Nanomechanics of Structural Biological Materials



Group Information
· Christine Ortiz, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
· Christine Ortiz, Dean for Graduate Education
- Short Professional Biography
· Group Members
and Alumni
· Publications

· Laboratory Information / Equipment
· Biological Collections Catalog
· Archived News
· Academic Geneology
Email contact : cortiz@mit.edu

Password Protected Webpages
· Ortiz Group Intranet
· Sea Urchin Webpage

· MIT Academic Calendar
· 3.052 Nanomechanics of Materials and Biomaterials Spring 2010 - Course Materials
· 3.225 Electrical and Mechanical Properties of Materials Fall 2009
· 3.052 Nanomechanics of Materials and Biomaterials Spring 2009
· 3.052 Nanomechanics of Materials and Biomaterials Spring 2007
3.032 Mechanics of Materials Fall 2006

NanoNewton Podcasts

Scientific Links
· Bio AFM / HRFS Supply Companies
· Graduate Student Awards
· Journal Webpage

Group Funding
· National Science Foundation (PECASE, NIRT, MRSEC-IRG, CMMI)
· U.S. Army : MIT Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies
· Department of Defense National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (NSSEFF)
· Raytheon
· Dupont-MIT Alliance
· Whitaker Foundation
· Lord Corporation
· 3M Innovation Fund
· Cambridge-MIT Institute


Mission Statement

The focus of the Ortiz research program is on structural or load-bearing biological materials, in particular musculoskeletal (internal to the body) and exoskeletal (external to the body) tissues. A powerpoint summary can be found here. Such systems have developed hierarchical and heterogeneous composite structures over millions of years of evolution in order to sustain the mechanical loads experienced in their specific environment. For this reason, they have enjoyed a long and distinguished history in the literature of more than a century with an emphasis on macroscopic, continuum-level biomechanics. The Ortiz research group studies these fascinating materials using expertise in the field of “nanomechanics” including; the measurement and prediction of extremely small forces and displacements, the quantification of nanoscale spatially-varying mechanical properties, the identification of local constitutive laws, the formulation of molecular-level structure-property relationships, and the investigation of new mechanical phenomena existing at small length scales. Novel experimental and theoretical methods are employed (see Table below) involving increasing levels of complexity from individual molecules to biomimetic molecular assemblies to single cells to the nanoscale properties of the in-tact tissue. The result, and ultimate objective of the Ortiz research program, is a fundamental, mechanistic-based understanding of tissue function, quality, and pathology. The scientific foundation being formed has relevance to both the medical and engineering fields. Nanotechnological methods applied to the field of musculoskeletal tissues and tissue engineering hold great promise for significant and rapid advancements towards tissue repair and/or replacement, improved treatments, and possibly even a cure for people afflicted with diseases such as osteoarthritis. In addition, the discovery of new nanoscale design principles and energy-dissipating mechanisms will enable the production of improved and increasingly advanced biologically-inspired structural engineering materials and protective defense technologies that exhibit "mechanical property amplification" - that is, dramatic improvements in mechanical properties (e.g. increases in strength and toughness) for a material relative to its constituents. Our work in musculoskeletal tissues focuses on articular cartilage, bone, and intervertebral disc. Our work in exoskeletal structures involves; natural flexible armor, transparent armor, armor for biochemical toxin resistance, kinetic attacks, thermal regulation, and blast dissipation. Model systems include armored fish, deep sea hydrothermal vent and antarctic molluscs, molluscs and echinoderms with articulating plate armor (e.g. chitons, C. atratus), the transparent exoskeletons of certain crustaceans and pteropods, etc.


· spatially specific high-resolution (piconewton) force spectroscopy (HRFS) including nanoscale adhesion
· single molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS)
· chemical force microscopy (CFM)
· lateral force microscopy (LFM)
· atomic force spectroscopy (AFM) ultrastructural and single molecule imaging
· instrumented and AFM-based nanoindentation
· dynamic nanomechanics; force relaxation, creep, oscillatory loading

· single cell mechanics
· nanoscale theoretical simulations
· finite element analysis
· microcomputed tomography
3D printing

Short Video of Prof. Ortiz

Prof. Ortiz on TV (The Science Channel): AVI Download (32MB), MOV download (60 MB)

Selected Recent Papers

· Li, L. and C. Ortiz “Pervasive nanoscale deformation twinning as a catalyst for efficient energy dissipation in a bioceramic armour,” Nature Materials, 2014, Vol. 13, doi:10.1038/nmat3920. PDF

· Li, Y., Ortiz, C., and M.C. Boyce, “A Generalized Mechanical Model for Suture Interfaces of Arbitrary Geometry,” Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 61: 4, 2013, 1144-1167. PDF

· Nia, H.T., Li, Y., Wang, Y., Soltani, I., Chubinskaya, S., Youcef-Toumi, K.., Ortiz, C., and A.J. Grodzinsky, “High Bandwidth AFM-Based Rheology Reveals that Cartilage is Most Sensitive to High Loading Rates at Early Stages of Impairment,” Biophysical Journal, 2013;104(7):1529-37. PDF

· Han, L., Grodzinsky, A. J., and C. Ortiz, "Nanomechanics of the Cartilage Extracellular Matrix: A Review," Annual Review of Materials Research, 41, 133-168, 2011. PDF

· Song, J., Reichert, S. Kallai, I., Gazit, D., Wund, M., Boyce, M. C., and C. Ortiz, “Quantitative Microstructural Studies of the Armor of the Marine Threespine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus),” Journal of Structural Biology, 171(3), 318-331, 2010. PDF

· Bruet, B. J. F.; Song, J.; Boyce, M. C.; Ortiz, C., “Materials Design Principles of Ancient Fish Armor,” Nature Materials, 7(9), 748-756, 2008 PDF

· Ortiz, C. and M. C. Boyce, “Bioinspired Structural Materials,” Science 319(5866), 1053-1054, 2008. PDF

LATEST GROUP NEWS (*Archived News Here)

MOVED TO FACEBOOK PAGE: http://bit.ly/ChristineOrtiz

11/3/12 · Hadi Tavakoli Nia delivered a podium presentation on “Dynamic Nanomechanics of Cartilage,” at NEW.Mech 2012 at Brown University.

9/13/12 · Congratulations to Ortiz group graduate student, Hadi Tavakoli Nia, who won the DeFlorez Travel Award in Design and Manufacturing at MIT.

4/27/12 ·Ortiz Group visits the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA! Link.

Ortiz Group Higgins Ortiz Group Higgins

Ortiz Group Higgins Ortiz Group Higgins Ortiz Group Higgins Ortiz Group Bowling

February 3-7, 2012· Hadi Takavoli Nia presents at the at the 58th Annual Orthopaedic Research Society Meeting on The effect of GAG depletion on cartilage nanoscale hydraulic permeability (Nia, HT, Soltani, I, Li, Y, Frank, E, Yousef-Toumi, K, Grodzinsky, AJ, Ortiz, C ), San Francisco.

1/20/12 · Congratulations to Ortiz group graduate student Erica Lin, who was selected to recieve a 2012 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship sponsored and funded by the Department of Defense (DoD)!

Erica Lin

1/20/12 · Congratulations to Ortiz group postdoc Yaning Li whose publication in PRE2 entitled, "Bioinspired, mechanical, deterministic fractal model for hierarchical suture joints" was highlighted in Physics Synopsis for American Physical Society, APS. Link

1/20/12 · Ortiz Group Bowling!

Ortiz Group Bowling Ortiz Group Bowling Ortiz Group BowlingOrtiz Group Bowling

Ortiz Group BowlingOrtiz Group Bowling Ortiz Group Bowling

1/13/12 ·Congratulations to Michael Batista, who was accepted into UCSB and MIT graduate schools!

1/13/12 ·Congratulations to Eric Arndt! His rapid-access beamtime proposal submitted this fall for live-imaging experiments was accepted for 3 days of beamtime this summer at Argonne National Lab.

12/28/11 ·Congratulations to Ortiz group members Lin Han, Michael Batista, Yaning Li, Erica Lin, and Ashley Browning who had their abstracts accepted as oral presentations at the American Physics Society (APS) March 2012 meeting (Feburary 27 to March 2) in Boston, MA. Details are here: PDF

12/15/11 ·Congratulations to Ortiz group members Yaning Li and Juha Song for 1st place in the poster competition, for poster " Y.N. Li, J. Song, C. Ortiz, M.C. Boyce (MIT, USA) Stiffness and strength of suture joints in nature " and Lin Han, Fred Rojas, and Mike Batista for winning 2nd place (shared) for their poster " F.P. Rojas, M. Batista, A.J. Grodzinsky, C. Ortiz, L. Han (MIT, USA) Molecular interactions between cartilage extracellular matrix constituents determine its tissue integrity " at the 4th International Conference on Mechanics of Biomaterials & Tissues, Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort and Spa, Waikoloa, HI.

Ortiz Group at ICOMBT

12/11/11 to 12/15/11 · Ortiz group members at the 4th International Conference on Mechanics of Biomaterials & Tissues, Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort and Spa, Waikoloa, HI.

Ortiz Group at ICOMBT

12/9/11 · Ortiz group members visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA.

Ortiz Group at Santa Barbara

08/28/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab members graduate students Ting-Ting Chen, Matthew Connors, and Ling Li, who had three abstracts accepted to the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), Charleston, SC, all as oral presentations. The details are here: PDF



09/02/11 · Congrats to Ortiz group graduate student Hadi Tavakoli Nia who was invited to chair a session on "Polymers and Composites" at the 4th International Conference on Mechanics of Biomaterials & Tissues, Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort and Spa, Waikoloa, HI.


09/01/11 · Congrats to UROP Mike Batista who won 1st prize in the DMSE UROP poster symposium and received a cash prize of $100. His poster was entitled, "Nanomechanics of Murine Cartilage Reveals the Effects of Chondroadherin Knockouts," Michael Batista, Alan J. Grodzinsky, Christine Ortiz, Dick Heinegård, Lin Han. Read a detailed abstract here. PDF

08/29/11 · Ortiz Group Canoeing Trip, Concord Massachusetts

08/28/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab members postdoc Lin Han, undergraduates Mike Batista, Fred Rojas, postdoc Yaning Li, and graduate student Ling Li, who had four abstracts accepted to the Fall 2011 Materials Research Society Meeting, Boston, MA, all as oral presentations. The details are here: PDF

08/18/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab graduate student Ting Ting Chen, who gave an oral presentation "Biomechanical Design of the Tiled and Actuating Exoskeleton of the Helmet Urchin, Colobocentrotus atratus." at the 6th North American Echinoderm Conference, College Place, WA.

08/18/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab member Juha Song who defended her doctoral thesis, "Multiscale Materials Design of Natural Exoskeletons: Fish Armor"!

05/23/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab graduate student Hadi Tavakoli Nia, who was selected as a finalist YC FUNG Student Paper Competition in Bio-mechanics and Bio-physics! He will give an oral presentation at the Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conference June 2nd, 3:15pm at Northeastern University, 433 Curry Center, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston. A preliminary program can be found by clicking here.


05/23/11 · Ortiz Lab graduate student Sergio Araya gives a series of presentations in Chile at Tech Visions this week, invited by the Innovation Dept. of the Ministry of Economy. He was also featured on the cover of "City Magazine" and has accepted a faculty position at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile, where he will be starting and directing a new design school. Congrats!

Tech vision

05/10/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab 2010 PhD Alumni Hsu-Yi Lee, who was announced as one of the recipients of the Jin-Au Kong Award for best Electrical Engineering PhD Thesis this year. This award will be presented at the annual Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Spring Fling on May 15, 2011, at the MIT Museum. Nice work!


04/19/11 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab UROP Michael Batista, who was accepted into an all expenses paid program for 10 weeks of summer research in Germany through DAAD RISE, a German academic exchange service. Michael was matched with a research lab at the Chemnitz University of Technology, where he will be conducting AFM studies of viscoelasticity. For more details on DAAD RISE, click here.


03/25/11 · Ortiz Lab graduate student Matthew Connors will give a presentation at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Western Society of Malacologists (WSM), to be held from June 27th to June 30th, 2011, at La Paz, Baja California Sur, México: Connors, M., Araya, S. and C. Ortiz, "Multiscale Design of a Natural Articulating Armor: the Chitons (Mollusca: Polyplacophora).”

03/24/11 · Ortiz Lab Postdoc Yaning Li gives a talk at the 2011 American Physical Society Annual March Meeting in Dallas, Texas: Li, Y., Song, J., Ortiz, C., and M. C. Boyce, "Mechanics of Suture Joints."


10/08/10 · Ortiz Lab graduate student Sergio Araya gives a presentation at SCL 2110 in Chile. SCL-2110 is an event where architecture, art, and performance intersect. Invited participants include Bernard Tschumi, former dean of Architecture at Columbia University, as well as Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, authors among others of the ICA building in Boston.


09/20/10 · Congratulations to Ortiz Lab Ph.D. student Juha Song, who won best oral presentation at the 3rd International Conference on Advanced Nanomaterials in Agadir, Morrocco last week. This news is featured on the first page of the conference website. Great work!


08/17/10 · Members of the Ortiz Lab return from a four-day visit to the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, where they were busy conducting experiments. Click on photos below for high resolution versions.  

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What are the images at the top of the page? (from left to right) : Images by Haimin Yao, Kuangshin Tai, Christine Ortiz, Benjamin Bruet, Unknown (web), Hsu-Yi Lee, Matt Connors, Elaine Lee, and Fevzi Cebeci.

Contact Info : Christine Ortiz, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA. Office : Room 13-4022, Labs : Rooms 12-065, 13-5037. Office Phone : (617) 452 3084 Email : cortiz@mit.edu WWW : http://web.mit.edu/cortiz/www/

This page was created and is updated by Christine Ortiz. Copyright 1999, Christine Ortiz, all rights reserved.
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