Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Seminar


Bioinspired Dynamic Material Systems: Warm-blooded Plastics, Optical Chemical


Dr. Ximin He


Arizona State University


Monday, June 13, 2016 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Jerry Qi


From the cellular level up to the body system level, to keep alive and perform various functionalities living organisms cooperatively perform chemo-mechanical actions of their muscles or tissues with their environmentally vigilant cells in response to a variety of signals. Inspired by these, we have developed a series of dynamic material systems, based on stimuli-responsive hydrogel and its adaptively reconfigurable microarchitecture. This talk will introduce several novel functionalities that this broad-based platform has demonstrated, namely “artificial homeostasis” for self-regulation and molecules in-line separation, “artificial reflectin” for optical chemical/bio-sensing, and “artificial sunflower” for dynamic solar harvesting and conversion. First, we applied the biological concept of homeostasis (e.g. self-regulation of blood sugar and bodily temperature with warm-blooded animals) and created synthetic homeostatic materials that can precisely control local conditions, e.g. temperature (Nature, 2012) and molecular concentrations, and can also autonomously separate biological and chemical target molecules blood serum (Nature Chem. 2015) and waste water for biomedical therapeutics and water treatment. Second, inspired by the dynamic coloration of cephalopods and beetles, we developed hydrogel-based colorimetric sensors for detection of a broad range of gaseous and liquid chemical and biological molecules for health and environmental monitoring. Third, we recently developed a novel photo-thermal responsive soft material that has successfully mimicked the phototropism (light tracking capability) of plants and performed fast and accurate light tracking and solar harvesting, with applications in waveguide, solar cells, fuel cells, and smart windows. Last, the development of our novel optical 3-D printing systems and other recent research in our group about energy storage and biomaterials will also be introduced


Ximin He is an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Graduate Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, and the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University since 2014. Dr. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in Wyss Institute of Bioinspired Engineering and School of Engineering and Applied Science with Professor Joanna Aizenberg at Harvard University. She received her PhD in Chemistry in the fields of Nanoscience and Organic Optoelectronics from University of Cambridge, Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis, Cavendish Laboratory and Nanoscience Center. Dr. He graduated from the Chemistry Department of Tsinghua University in 2006. Dr. He’s research focuses biologically inspired functional smart materials, chemical and biological sensors, actuators, and lithium ion batteries with broad applications in materials science, biomedicine, environment, and energy. She has authored/co-authored 23 papers in leading archival journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings, book chapters and has a number of pending U.S./U.K. patents. She is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, AFOSR Young Investigator Program award, Harvard Postdoctoral Award for Professional Development, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, UK Overseas Research Scholarship, the Government Award for National Outstanding Students, and UK National Excellent Young Scientist Award. Her research on bioinspired homeostatic materials and novel nanostructured polymeric solar cells have garnered a number of regional and international awards and was featured in >100 international news outlets.