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Structural Hierarchies in Biomimetric Materials: Protein Inspired De Novo Materials
Final rept. Jun 2008-May 2011
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE OFFICE OF SPONSORED RESEARCH
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Hierarchical materials represent intriguing examples of multi-functional systems that combine disparate properties such as robustness, high strength, high elasticity changeability, controllability and the ability to self-assemble and self-heal. In this project we accomplished a multi-scale analysis of the fundamental material concepts that make it possible to achieve these properties. The work bridged the gap between biological and engineering sciences, facilitating the design of de novo biomimetic structures and materials with similar properties. We employed an innovative approach that combined theoretical analyses, large-scale atomistic based multi-scale simulation implemented on massively parallelized supercomputers with experimental work. Our efforts focused on mechanical properties including elasticity, fracture resistance, self-assembly, and how these properties can be controlled. A focal point was the role and utilization of material hierarchies, an abundant trait of all protein materials and critical to their ability to combine disparate material properties. We focused on alpha-helical intermediate filament motif found in the cell s cytoskeleton, also forming the basis of wool and hair in the study of these scientific principles and covered a vast range of scales from nano to macro. Our work provided quantitative predictions of the elastic and strength properties of protein materials throughout vast range of time scales.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE