Jeff Moore, a professor of chemistry and of materials science and engineering, and a member of Beckman’s Autonomous Materials Systems Group, discusses how many manufactured goods of the future will include vascular networks that make them more adaptable, functional, and longer-lasting.
What is a bio-inspired material?
As the name implies, when you draw inspiration from biology or nature in order to design a synthetic material, that’s a bio-inspired material. In the video, we use the example of a tree—with its root systems and vasculature to carry nutrients and water through the trunk, branches, and leaves—that inspired us to create vascularized materials.
Why are more and more human-made products drawing inspiration from nature?
Nature is an endless source of inspiration. Millions of years of evolution have led to an amazing variety of structure and function in animals, plants, fungi, and more.
How are vascular networks useful in materials?
Vascular networks carry liquids that can have different useful effects on the material. One example is thermal management, such as cooling down a hot material by using a vascular network of a cooling liquid.
Describe the technology behind how you create vascular networks (what is a sacrificial fiber)?
We actually have several patents related to the design of sacrificial fibers. One of them was just granted. See “Partially degradable fibers and microvascular materials formed from the fibers.”
What types of manufactured materials can benefit from having an internal vascular network?
Materials that undergo dynamic conditions and must remain durable despite those conditions whether that’s heat, stress, or strain.
What types of liquids can be put inside vascular networks and how might they improve a material?
There are many types of things you can do. The simplest example is the one stated above: cool off a material by circulating a liquid through it.
Where do you see this technology going in the next 20 years?
As noted in the video, new designs of antennas, batteries, and medical devices could all benefit from these types of bio-inspired materials.