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Biomateriomics at the Nexus of Sound and Matter

Markus Buehler, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019
4:30 pm to 5:30 pm | 60 Oxford Street, 330

What if we could design materials that integrate powerful concepts of living organisms - self-organization, the ability to self-heal, tunability, and an amazing flexibility to create astounding material properties from abundant and inexpensive raw materials?  This talk will present a review of bottom-up analysis and design of materials for various purposes - as structural materials such as bone in our body or for lightweight composites.  These new materials are designed from the bottom up and through a close coupling of experiment and powerful computation as we assemble structures, atom by atom.  We review case studies of joint experimental-computational work of biomimetic materials design, manufacturing and testing for the development of strong, tough and smart mutable materials for applications as protective coatings, cables and structural materials.   

Modeling matter as resonating systems, this talk will then discuss the interface of material and sound, and present how we can transcend scales in space and time to make the invisible accessible to our senses and to manipulate matter from different vantage points, using innovative agents such as AI interacting with human creativity. The impact of this work is the design and making of new materials, art and music, and a deep mathematical understanding of the functional underpinnings of disparate manifestations of hierarchical systems. Building on these concepts, using AI, we explore a new interface of human expression with learned behavior to better understand the physiology and disease etiology due to the misfolding of proteins, explore it as the basis to generative algorithms, and present musical compositions based on the natural soundings of amino acids and proteins.

Using sets of harmonic oscillations as a unifying description, model of disparate hierarchical systems are developed, and then used to illustrate competing concepts of order and disorder and how they are the basis to create functional cross-scale relationships. The insights from this theory explain practically relevant issues such as the strength of silk or the emergence of disease, and the creation of new art. The translation from various hierarchical systems into one another presents a paradigm to understand the emergence of properties in materials, language, visual art, music, and similar systems.


Speaker Bio

Markus J. Buehler is the McAfee Professor of Engineering at MIT and leads MIT’s Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics. His primary research interests focus on the structure and mechanical properties of biological and bio-inspired materials, to characterize, model and create materials with architectural features from the nano- to the macro-scale. His most recent book, Biomateriomics, presents a new design paradigm for the analysis of biomaterials using a categorization approach that translates insights from disparate fields such as materials and music, and offers a new hierarchical design approach at the nexus of sound and matter.

Buehler serves as the president of the board of directors for the Society of Engineering Science, on the executive committee for the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), and others. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Behavior of Biomedical Materials (JMBBM) and BioNanoScience, and serves on the editorial board of numerous journals. He served as the chair of several conferences, societal committees, and is actively involved in public outreach (including an annual materials research camp at MIT with local middle and high schools), as well as translation of basic research through entrepreneurship. In addition to his teaching at MIT, he offers an annual Professional Education class “Predictive Multiscale Materials Design”. He was recently elected as MRS Fall 2021 Meeting Chair.

Buehler is the recipient of many awards including the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, the Alfred Noble Prize, the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the Leonardo da Vinci Award, and the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award, the United States Air Force Young Investigator Award, the Navy Young Investigator Award, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, as well as the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). In 2018, Buehler was selected as a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics. In 2019, he received the Materials Horizons Outstanding Paper Prize, and his work was recognized as a highly cited author by the Royal Society of Chemistry.


David Zhang


Nick Grall