RIT part of NSF-funded project to design futuristic materials inspired by biological cells

Rochester Institute of Technology Associate Professor Moumita Das is part of a group of researchers that recently received a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to design and develop next-generation materials influenced and fueled by the biological cells.

The goal of the team was to develop self-directed and programmed materials that could generate motion and force. They made use of biological building blocks, such as cells and proteins. This research could pave the way for future materials applications that range from self-healing bridges and self-propulsive materials to programmable micro-robotics including wound healing, dynamic prosthetics.

Das will work with a group of biologists, physicists, and engineers as well as Professor Rae Robertson-Anderson at University of San Diego as well as Professor Megan Valentine, Professor Jennifer Ross at Syracuse University and Professor Michael Rust, University of Chicago.

Das is a theorist and mathematical modeler who will develop mathematical models that predict and quantify for this project, aided by the experiments conducted by other collaborators on the project.

This grant will provide a close feedback between theory and experiments. I’m looking to develop models that can quantitatively predict the properties of materials and provide the foundations for rational design so that we can construct them.”

Moumita Das, Faculty at RIT’s School for Physics and Astronomy

Each university will be awarded a four-year grant that will allow undergraduates to participate in collaborative research, mentorship, and professional development. The team will have developed the framework for their material design concept and a prototype that can be used to help others develop new materials. This will allow them to assist in the numerous processes that living systems already perform seamlessly, such healing and regulation.

“We have assembled an elite multidisciplinary team of researchers from across the nation who bring unique perspectives and expertise to help these ideas a reality” said Robertson-Anderson. “This project is a key example of the power of a team-based approach to research that drives research and discovery. It is also needed to address the many pressing issues facing our society -; including those that demand new materials.”

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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