“Synthesis and performance of ceramic-based biological composites” 

July 27, 2021; 12 p.m. MST

Hosted by the Colorado Section, this webinar from Prof. David Kisailus describes the increasing need for the development of multifunctional lightweight materials with high strength and toughness.

There is an increasing need for the development of multifunctional lightweight materials with high strength and toughness. Natural systems have evolved efficient strategies, exemplified in the biological tissues of numerous animal and plant species, to synthesize and construct composites from a limited selection of available starting materials that often exhibit exceptional mechanical properties that are similar, and frequently superior to, mechanical properties exhibited by many engineering materials. These biological systems have accomplished this feat by establishing controlled synthesis and hierarchical assembly of nano- to micro-scaled building blocks. This controlled synthesis and assembly require organic that is used to transport mineral precursors to organic scaffolds, which not only precisely guide the formation and phase development of minerals, but also significantly improve the mechanical performance of otherwise brittle materials.

In this work, we investigate organisms that have taken advantage of hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary changes to derive ceramic-based structures, which are not only strong and tough, but also demonstrate impact or abrasion resistance. All of this is controlled by the underlying organic-inorganic components. We discuss the nucleation, growth and subsequent phase transformations of heavily crystallized radular teeth the chitons[1-6], a group of elongated mollusks that graze on hard substrates for algae. We also discuss a well-architected nanocomposite coating consisting of hydroxyapatite integrated within an organic matrix that provides exceptional damage mitigation against high rate impacts[7]. From the investigation of synthesis-structure-property relationships in these unique organisms, we are now developing and fabricating multifunctional engineering materials for energy conversion and storage[8].

[1]. “Integrated transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of a molecular mechanism of radular teeth biomineralization in Cryptochiton stelleri,” M. Nemoto, et al., Scientific Reports, 9 (2019), 856.
[2]. Nemoto, M. and D. Kisailus, Structural and proteomic analyses of iron oxide biomineralization in chiton teeth. Pages 53-73. In: Biological Magnetic Materials and Applications, T. Matsunaga, T. Tanaka and D. Kisailus, eds., Springer, (2018) 53-73.
[3]. “Competing mechanism in the wear resistance behavior of biomineralized rod-like microstructures,” E. Escobar de Obaldia et al., Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 96 (2016) 511-534.
[4]. “Stress and Damage Mitigation from Oriented Nanostructures within the Radular Teeth of Cryptochiton stelleri,” L.K. Grunenfelder et al., Adv. Funct. Mater., 24 (2014) 6093-6104.
[5]. Phase transformations and structural developments in the radular teeth of Cryptochiton stelleri,” Q. Wang, M. Nemoto, et al., Adv. Funct. Mater., 23 (2013) 2908–2917.
[6]. “Analysis of an ultra hard magnetic biomineral in chiton radular teeth,” J. Weaver, QQ. Wang, et al., Materials Today, 13 (2010) 42-52.
[7] “A natural impact resistant bi-continuous composite nanoparticle coating,” W. Huang, et al., Nature Materials, 9 (11) (2020) 1236-1243.
[8]. “Electrocatalytic N-Doped Graphitic Nanofiber – Metal/Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Composites,” H. Tang, et al., Small, 14


David Kisailus is the Henry Samueli Faculty Excellence Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California at Irvine. Prof. Kisailus, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and Member of UNESCO Chair in Materials and Technologies for Energy Conversion, Saving and Storage (MATECSS), received his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara (2002) M.S. from the University of Florida in Materials Science and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University. After his Ph.D., Prof. Kisailus was appointed as a post-doctoral researcher in the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Following this, he was a Research Scientist at HRL Laboratories and then joined the University of California as a faculty member.

He is currently the Director and Lead PI, of a Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) program. His research has focused on two areas that are complementary to one another: Biomimicry and bio-inspired materials synthesis. His laboratory: “Biomimetic and Nanostructured Materials Laboratory” investigates fundamental synthesis – structure – property relationships in biological composites in order to develop multifunctional light-weight, tough and impact resistant materials as well as develop / utilize solution-based processes to synthesize nanoscale materials for energy based applications. The ultimate goal is to be able to leverage lessons from Nature to develop next generation materials for energy conversion and storage as well as for environmental applications. Prof. Kisailus has published more than 100 papers in journals such as Science, ACS Nano, Advanced Materials, Adv. Funct. Matls, Crystal Growth & Design, Langmuir, Materials Today, PNAS, JACS. He has also been granted 12 patents (with more than 25 pending). His research is highlighted in high profile media including Nature, NY Times, LA Times, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and BBC.


ACerS member: no cost
ACerS GGRN and Material Advantage student member: no cost
Non-member: $30
Non-member student: $15

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If you have any questions, please contact Karen McCurdy.

This webinar is brought to you by ACerS Colorado Section.

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