MEMS Seminar: Mesoscale Materials Structures: Assembly, Mechanics, and Adhesion
Nature is masterful at using limited components and basic driving forces to build structures that transverse a wide range of size scales. Such structures enable the development of properties that push performance into regimes difficult to achieve today with synthetic materials and current engineering capabilities. Our research group focuses on understanding the underlying principles of physics, chemistry, and engineering that govern structure-property relationships that lead to such impressive performances and using these principles to develop synthetic materials systems that can positively impact society. In this presentation, we discuss the development of soft materials mesostructures, called mesoscale polymers, that offer new active control of mechanical properties and higher order assembly. In particular, we discuss the use of surface forces and geometry to control shape transformations, including into stretchable helices, which can generate large forces in response to environmental stimuli. We further highlight our latest discoveries related to using adhesion forces to develop novel, hierarchical assemblies between helical mesostructures and stabilized droplets. Through these examples, we highlight how we rely upon the development of scaling principles and the use of innovative characterization methods to guide our understanding of natural systems and the development of new synthetic materials devices.