Theodor Ackbarow

Visiting Graduate Student

Office: 1-131
Phone number: (Skype: usb4ger)
Fax: 617-324-4014

Research Focus

My research is focused on the mechanical properties of hierarchical, (mainly alpha-helix based) protein materials and networks as they appear in cells, hair or hoofs. The main goal is to understand the fundamental fracture mechanisms that exist at different length- and time scales, reaching from the rupture of individual hydrogen bonds at nanometer length- and picoseconds time scales, up to deformation and fracture of whole protein networks on the scale of micrometers and microseconds.

Understanding these structures and the underlying mechanisms will allow (1) creating theoretical structure-property links, necessary for the de novo development of synthetic, bio-inspired materials with exceptional mechanical properties (e.g. being tough and strong), and (2) possibly treating diseases, as many known diseases and related mutations affect mechanical properties of proteins or tissues (e.g. the rapid aging disease progeria).

: Rupture of a coiled-coil protein structure (see: Ackbarow et al., PNAS, 2007).


2007 - Present: Ph.D. at Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany
2006 - Present Visiting graduate student at MIT, Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Modeling
2003 - 2007 Diploma (Master of Science equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering at Universitaet Stuttgart


  • Scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation 2004-Present
  • Scholarship from the Hamburg Foundation for Studies Abroad 2007-Present
  • Scholarship from the Dr. Juergen Ulderup Foundation for Studies in Mechanical Engineering 2006-2007
  • Arthur-Fischer Award for the fastest and best graduation at the Department for Mechanical Engineering in Stuttgart 2007
  • Gustav-Magenwirth Award for the best research thesis in Mechanical Engineering


  • T. Ackbarow, X. Chen, S. Keten, M.J. Buehler, "Hierarchies, multiple energy barriers and robustness govern the fracture mechanics of alpha-helical and beta-sheet protein domains", Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences in the USA, Vol. 104 (42), pp. 16410-16415 (cover article), 2007
  • T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "Superelasticity, energy dissipation and strain hardening of vimentin coiled-coil intermediate filaments: atomistic and continuum studies", Journal of Materials Science, Vol. 42 (21): p.8771–8787, 2007
  • M.J. Buehler, T. Ackbarow, "Fracture mechanics of protein materials", Materials Today, Vol. 10(9): p. 46-58 (cover article), 2007
  • T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "Hierarchical coexistence of universality and diversity controls robustness and multifunctionality in protein materials" Nature Precedings, 2007
  • T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "Molecular mechanics of stutter defects in vimentin intermediate filaments". Experimental Mechanics, available online, DOI 10.1007/s11340-007-9100-6, 2008
  • M.J. Buehler, T. Ackbarow, "Nanomechanical strength mechanisms of hierarchical biological materials and tissues", Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, in press
  • T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "Hierarchical coexistence of universality and diversity controls robustness and optimality in protein materials". Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanotechnology 5(7): p. 1193-1204, 2008
  • H. Zhang, T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "Point mutations do not affect the mechanical behavior of Lamin intermediate filaments", Journal of Biomechanics, 41(6): p. 1295-1301, 2008
  • M.J. Buehler, S. Keten, T. Ackbarow, "Theoretical and computational hierarchical nanomechanics of protein materials: deformation and fracture", Progress in Materials Science, Vol. 53 (8), p. 1101-1241, 2008
  • T. Ackbarow, M.J. Buehler, "alpha-helical protein domains unify strength and robustness through hierarchical nanostructures", under submission to: Nanotechnology
  • T. Ackbarow, S. Keten, M.J. Buehler, "Multi-time scale model of alpha-helical protein domains", under submission


Copyright (c) 1999-2008 Markus J. Buehler. All rights reserved.