ME:6191 Graduate Seminar - Andy Sarles, PhD

Apr 8, 2021

03:30 PM - 04:20 PM

Online venue, Email ME-Dept@uiowa.edu for Zoom meeting link

University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242

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Biomolecular soft matter for tunable, brain-inspired smart materials

Abstract: Stimuli-responsiveness and selective transport mediated by biomolecules at the nanometer length-scale form the basis of nearly all autonomous functions in living creatures. For example, these features enable the development and propagation of action potentials in nerve cells that record and transmit many types of external perturbations, trigger adaptive information processing and memory storage in the brain, and coordinate muscular responses and locomotion. Engineering synthetic materials to achieve and collocate these same capabilities of sensing, energy-conversion, computing, and controlled actuation thus represents an important research challenge that will result in a new generation of smart systems, including autonomous vehicles and robots, medical devices, and multifunctional, adaptive structures. However, while many smart material systems derive inspiration from nature, relatively few employ stimuli-responsive biomolecules such as proteins and ion channels. The research in the Sarles group specifically aims to address this gap by exploring how collections of functional biomolecules can be assembled to enable selective transport, characterized, and applied in engineering uses. By leveraging molecular self-assembly at liquid interfaces, we have developed methods to assemble, characterize and encapsulate biomimetic membranes capable of hosting a variety of functional biomolecules and enabling selective transport. This presentation will focus on current efforts to engineer synapse-like signal processing behaviors in biomimetic membranes, with the goal to expand the types of brain-inspired computing functionalities needed for next generation smart systems.

Bio: Dr. Andy Sarles is an Associate Professor and the James Conklin Fellow in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Sarles’ research group works to develop new types of bio-inspired multifunctional materials from soft, reconfigurable materials, including stimuli-responsive biological molecules and polymers. His research is currently supported by NSF, AFOSR, and DARPA, and his contributions include methods to rapidly assemble, stabilize for portability and durability, and characterize nanoscale biomolecular assemblies for use as sensors, energy conversion devices, and neuromorphic computing elements. Sarles is the recipient of a 2018 NSF CAREER Award, the 2017 Gary Anderson Early Achievement Award from the Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Branch at ASME, and a 2015 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Grant. He is a member of ASME and ASEE, and is currently serving as the General Chair of the 2021 ASME Smart Materials Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems (SMASIS) Conference.

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