Biochemical strategies in load-bearing natural materials
Biological organisms produce numerous protein-based materials possessing a range of industrially desirable properties – e.g., damage tolerance, self-healing, actuation, and underwater adhesion. We investigate the biochemical, biophysical and structural underpinnings of such material behaviors with the goal of adapting extracted concepts to bioengineered polymers with tailored properties.
To achieve these aims, we take a three-pronged multi-disciplinary strategy utilizing approaches in biology, biochemistry, molecular biology and materials science:
I. Learn from nature: Extract design principles at multiple length scales via in-depth structural, mechanical and biochemical characterization.
II. Characterize building blocks: Investigate protein building blocks to elucidate molecular-level biochemical structure-function relationships via in vitro characterization.
III. Synthesize tailored biopolymers: Integrate extracted principles into biopolymers with tailored material properties and structural organization.