Cotton candy machines have inspired a new way to build capillary structures necessary to make full-scale artificial livers, kidneys, bones and other essential organs. While some may call the approach a little crazy, engineers have shown the machines make possible a simple technique to make microfluidic networks that mimic the 3-D capillary system in the human body in a cell-friendly fashion. Hear more in this Discovery Files podcast.
Credit: NSF/Karson Productions
Materials science and engineering research thrives in collaborative environments. On Feb. 18, 2015, NSF announced awards for 12 Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) for multidisciplinary work that covers all areas of material science, fostering active university, national laboratory, industrial and international collaboration with integral multidisciplinary education and outreach. The centers support some of the world's best multi- and inter-disciplinary materials research and education addressing fundamental problems, such as developing new nanomaterials to build better artificial knee replacements and heart valves or developing 2-D materials that will likely transform computing. Find out more in this news release.
Credit: Hera Vlamakis, Harvard University Medical School
The mission of the Division of Materials Research (DMR) in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences is to make new discoveries about the behavior of matter and materials; to create new materials and new knowledge about materials phenomena; to address fundamental materials questions that often transcend traditional scientific and engineering disciplines and may lead to new technologies; to prepare the next generation of materials researchers; to develop and support the instruments and facilities that are crucial to advance the field; and to share the excitement and significance of materials science with the public at large.
Harvard University engineers have developed one of the first 3-D printed, soft robots that moves autonomously. The design offers a new solution to an engineering challenge that has plagued soft robotics: The integration of rigid and soft materials.
May 23, 2016
Soldier scientists inventing lighter bullet proof vests, and more
It's "boots on the ground" in this Harvard lab where the researchers are on a mission to protect U.S. troops on the battlefield
Kit Parker is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and has served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan. Even when he's not in uniform, this Harvard University bioengineer makes it his mission to protect the men and women of the U.S. armed forces -- from improving wound dressings to designing lighter weight bullet proof vests.
Parker and his team are developing next generation nanofibers at the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The center is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The overarching goal of the Harvard MRSEC is to perform transformative research that significantly advances the state of knowledge in several areas of soft matter science, and to educate the next generation of leaders in materials science and engineering.
The unlikely inspiration for Parker's team is none other than the cotton candy machine. They use their own version of that technology to spin a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, into new fabrics and materials for military use.
The NSF MRSECs provide sustained support of interdisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering. The centers support materials research infrastructure in the United States, promote active collaboration between universities and other sectors, including industry and international institutions, and contribute to the development of a national network of university-based centers in materials research, education and facilities.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1420570, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.