(6ie) Granular Composite-Enabled Multi-Scale Dynamic Responsive Materials

Authors: 
Fang, Y., University of Chicago
Han, E., The University of Chicago
Jiang, Y., Stanford University
Lin, Y., University of Chicago
Xiao, X., Brookhaven National Laboratory
Wang, J., Argonne National Laboratory
Jaeger, H. M., The University of Chicago
Tian, B., University of Chicago
Research Interests:

Bio-materials for multi-scale chemical and mechanical dynamics. Reconfigurable photonic crystals and shape memory polymers.

Teaching Interests:

Materials of Chemical Engineering, Energy Transport phenomena, Material and Energy Balances, structure and properties of polymer.

Living tissues are an integrated, multi-scale architecture consisting of dense cell ensembles and extracellular matrices (ECM) that cooperatively enable the excellent mechanical properties and dynamic responsiveness. One key challenge in creating tissue-like materials is to identify cell-like building blocks that can synergistically respond to external stress with existing ECM-like polymer platforms. Here, we designed a granular material-enabled hybrid gel, including cell-like starch granules embedded in ECM-like synthetic hydrogel matrices that readily exhibited dynamic reconfigurable effects upon mechanical training. Multi-scale and in-situ characterizations reveal that the unique combination between microscopic (chemical bonding) and mesoscopic (physical friction) interactions from starch granules cooperatively give rise to the tissue-like properties, such as dynamic responsiveness, strain-stiffening, and self-healability. Our results suggest that granular materials, a largely ignored component for biomimetics, can be critical in enabling dynamic behaviors in artificial materials and even future adaptive and active metamaterials.