Caltech Logo

Materials Science Research Lecture

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Add to Cal
Online Event
New Bio-inspired Materials: When Chemistry Meets Optics, Mechanics and Surface Science
Joanna Aizenberg, Professor, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University,

Webinar Link:

Webinar ID: 957 0877 2987


Living systems sense, respond to, and harvest energy from the changing environment by interweaving chemistry, mechanics, optics, electronics, and fluid dynamics across time and length scales. In this lecture, materials chemist Joanna Aizenberg will give us a taste of how the inspiration from nature teaches us to break barriers between these fields in the synthetic realm and leads to fascinating new concepts in materials design. She will look at a deep sea sponge and envision a green, illuminated skyscraper that harvests energy from the wind. The brittle star's intricate skeleton will inspire dynamic optical systems that can collect light. She will present cilia-inspired adaptive hairy surfaces that alter their wetting, optical, and adhesive behavior via chemomechanical reconfiguration of tiny nanostructures. Creating liquid-sensing "noses" from chemically patterned photonic crystals inspired by butterflies, or ultra-slippery surfaces that resist ice and microbial adhesion, prevent marine fouling, or reduce drag inspired by pitcher plant and cacti – these are just the beginning of the multifunctional, dynamic materials possibilities waiting to be explored at the interdisciplinary border between biology, chemistry, and physics.

More about the Speaker:

Joanna Aizenberg received the M.S. degree in Chemistry from Moscow State University, and the Ph.D. degree in Structural Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. After spending nearly a decade at Bell Labs, Joanna joined Harvard University, where she is the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

The Aizenberg lab's research is aimed at understanding some of the basic principles of biological architecture and the economy with which nature solves complex problems in the design of multifunctional, adaptive materials. These biological principles are then used as guidance in developing new, bio-inspired synthetic routes and nanofabrication strategies that would lead to advanced materials and devices, with broad implications in fields ranging from architecture to energy efficiency to medicine. Research topics of interest include biomimetics, smart materials, wetting phenomena, bio-nano interfaces, self-assembly, crystal engineering, surface chemistry, structural color and biomineralization.

Aizenberg is elected to the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and she is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, Materials Research Society and External Member of the Max Planck Society. Dr. Aizenberg's select awards include: MRS Medal, Kavli Innovations in Chemistry Leader Award, ACS; Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience, MRS; Ronald Breslow Award for the Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry, ACS; and Harvard's Ledlie Prize for the most valuable contribution to science. She has >250 publications, >80 issued patents, and is a Founder of four start-up companies.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Blankenship by email at [email protected].