The next generation of polymeric materials will need features typically associated with biological systems, such as programmable, self-healing, and self-regenerating properties. While engineering synthetic materials with such capabilities remains a grand challenge, these properties are inherent to biofilm-forming bacteria, which use internal material factories to produce polymeric matrices with highly precise and complex structures and mechanical properties. As such, our group, the Huli Materials Lab, leverages microorganisms to fabricate engineered living materials.
The Huli Materials Lab develops characterization and processing methods to quantify and program the properties of living polymeric materials to enable functionalities desired for applications in biotechnology, sensing, and protection. Research areas in the Huli Materials Lab include: (1) extreme mechanics of biofilms and polymers, (2) spatially programming the properties of living polymeric composites, and (3) engineering the mechanical properties of biohybrid hydrogels.
Mechanics of Living Materials
We will develop characterization methods to investigate the structure-property relationships of biofilms.
• How do the mechanical properties of biofilms relate to the composition?
• How do the mechanical properties change in response to environment?
Fabrication of Biohybrid Materials
We will develop and use tools to program the properties of bio-hybrid materials to enable functionalities desired for many applications.
Mechanics of Soft Materials
We develop characterization methods to investigate the structure-property relationships of difficult to handle materials.