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Structural Chemo-Mechanics of Fibrous Networks

Structural Chemo-Mechanics of Fibrous Networks aims to develop a new field of network chemo-mechanics by understanding and harnessing the structural, chemical, and mechanical complexity inherent in fibrous networks. Fibrous networks are ubiquitous in biology but are underexplored in materials science. The team will create and characterize new fibrous materials with structural chemo-mechanical properties, and it will develop theory and models to enhance understanding of them. Specifically, we aim to synthesize materials in which spatially localized chemical reactions are controlled through management of local fibrous network structure. This local chemical control can occur by focusing applied macroscopic stress to targeted regions in the material; this phenomena enables us to concentrate or align chemical species with specific reactant and catalyst sites, and thereby alter their reaction kinetics. The group will thus lay foundations for materials with stress-reinforcing and self-renewal capabilities and materials with an expanded range of non-linear elastic responses to large multiaxial strains. The new concepts are useful for advanced fibers, adhesives, elastomers, textiles, and scaffolds for tissue repair and regeneration.