IRG 1: Fuel-Driven Pluripotent Materials

IRG 1, Fuel-Driven Pluripotent Materials will design and realize pluripotent materials – materials whose morphology and functionality can be actively controlled via suitable environmental inputs – based on both nanocrystal and biopolymer networks. Inspired by stem cells that can differentiate to take on distinct structures and functions, IRG 1 will design and synthesize materials whose polymorphic structures are accessed by kinetically controlled fueling processes proceeding along designed, out-of-equilibrium pathways. Chemical or optical fueling will push an assembly energetically uphill to non-equilibrium states, which spontaneously relax to their initial structures or generate new assemblies as the fuel is depleted. Adapting fueled mechanisms to synthetic materials will expand the range of adaptive functionalities, including optical, rheological, and contractile properties, that are not found in nature. These endeavors will facilitate technologies for energy efficiency, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology. For example, mid-infrared thermal barriers require multiple optical states and response times to achieve camouflaging. In addition, soft, flexible materials with different configurations accessed via energy inputs offer outstanding potential for actuated motion in soft robotics. A team spanning five academic departments with expertise in organic chemistry, polymer and biomolecular materials, materials simulation, nanomaterials synthesis, and ultrafast optical characterization of materials will collaborate to create new classes of actively controllable soft nanomaterials.

José Alvarado | Physics

Eric Anslyn | Chemistry (IRG 1 Co-Leader)

Carols R. Baiz | Chemistry

Roger Bonnecaze | Chemical Engineering

Moumita Das | Physics & Astronomy

Benjamin Keitz | Chemical Engineering

Delia Milliron | Chemical Engineering

Sean Roberts | Chemistry 

Adrianne Rosales | Chemical Engineering (IRG 1 Co-Leader)

Jeanne Stachowiak | Biomedical Engineering

Thomas Truskett | Chemical Engineering