Materiomics: Multiscale Mechanics of Biological Materials and Structures

June 4, 2012 — June 8, 2012


  • Markus Buehler (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA)
  • Roberto Ballarini (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA)

Multiscale mechanics of hierarchical materials plays a crucial role in understanding and engineering biological and bioinspired materials and systems. The mechanical properties of engineering materials have been studied extensively, and changed our world by enabling the design of complex structures and advanced devices. The mechanical science of hierarchical tissues and cells in biological systems has recently emerged as an exciting area of research and provides enormous opportunities for innovative basic research and technological advancement. Such advances could enable us to provide engineered materials and structures with properties that resemble those of biological systems, in particular the ability to self-assemble, to self-repair, to adapt and evolve, and to provide multiple functions that can be controlled through external cues.
However, despite significant advancements in the study of biological materials in the past decade, the fundamental physics of many phenomena in biology continue to pose substantial challenges with respect to model building, experimental studies, and simulation. Specifically, the understanding of the mechanisms of failure in biological systems remains a major issue, in particular in the context of breakdown of tissue in disease states, the failure of biological components due to injuries, and the ability of biological systems to mitigate adverse effects of damage through self-healing mechanisms. Because of our lacking ability to engineer biological materials, we also remain hindered in our ability to mass produce and utilize these materials for daily life applications, through consumer products, medical devices and large-scale systems in aerospace, defense and building technologies. The hierarchical bottom-up design approach in biology, from the level of genes (DNA), to proteins, to tissues, organs and organisms, originates at the molecular scale and requires a bottom-up description from a fundamental perspective. For this reason, approaches rooted in physics that consider the structure-process-property paradigm of materials science are a powerful means to investigate the properties of biological materials, a new field of study referred to as materiomics.

The aim of this course is to present lectures from leading researchers in the field of mechanical sciences of biological materials and structures, with a focus on the behavior of biological materials under extreme physical, chemical as well as physiological conditions and human disease, as well as on biomimetic and bioinspired material development for technological applications. To provide a thorough foundation for this research, the course will focus on the integration of advanced experimental, computational and theoretical methods applied to the study of biological materials, across disparate length- and time-scales, from nano to macro. A particular focus of this course will be the discussion of theoretical, computational and experimental tools utilized to assess structure-process-property relations and to monitor and predict mechanisms associated with the function and failure of biological materials and structures composed of them. The lectures will provide an overview over emerging fields in this broad field of research and outline important challenges and opportunities.
KEYWORDS: Multiscale mechanics, Hierarchical materials, Biological structure, Biomechanics of tissue, Cell mechanics.


See also