Keith Brown, Boston University
Nature realizes extraordinary materials by structuring them precisely from the molecular scale to the macroscopic scale. While nature may have perfected this process over evolutionary time scales, synthetically recapitulating this level of control is tremendously difficult due to the large number of length scales involved and our limited knowledge of interactions between these scales. Faced with the daunting challenge of synthetically realizing soft hierarchical materials, we have adopted a three pronged strategy to: (1) make structures with control from the molecular scale to the macroscopic scale by directing bottom-up growth processes with top-down control, (2) learn how the properties of such materials emerge from their hierarchical structure, and (3) design the best performing structures using novel approaches borrowed from machine learning and autonomous research. In this talk, we will on report recent progress in these complementary areas of making, studying, and designing hierarchical materials. In particular, we will focus on two major classes of materials, nanoparticle-based structures where the assembly and organization of particles leads to emergent mechanical properties at the bulk scale and polymer-based materials where we are connecting the synthesis, patterning, and properties of polymer structures across scales. In addition to lessons about the fundamental properties of hierarchically organized soft matter, we will highlight the synergies possible when combining, synthesis, detailed characterization, and advances in materials design.
Flyer File: brown_keith_physics_flyer.pdf