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HEMI Seminar: Ling Li, “Natural Structural Materials: Lessons on toughening mechanisms, weight reduction, and multifunctionality”

April 29, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Natural Structural Materials: Lessons on toughening mechanisms, weight reduction, and multifunctionality

Ling Li
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Attend in person: JHU Homewood campus, Malone G33/35

Structural materials that are damage tolerant, lightweight, multifunctional, and sustainable are highly desirable for many engineering applications. Such combinations of properties are often found in the biological world. Organisms from nature construct a variety of different biological structural materials for protection, predation, body support, camouflage, and etc. Despite the fact that these materials are made from limited constituent materials with usually poor intrinsic mechanical properties, such as brittle minerals and soft biopolymers, biological materials are often able to achieve remarkable mechanical properties while offering additional functionalities simultaneously, such as low density, coloration, transparency, flexibility, visual sensitivity, etc. In this talk, I will present our recent work in elucidating the fundamental structure-property relationships in some natural structural materials by focusing on their strategies in achieving damage tolerance, weight reduction, and multifunctionality. In particular, I will present a unique damage-tolerant, dual-scale, single-crystalline, low-density microlattice that we recently discovered in an echinoderm skeletal system. Our research combines quantitative multiscale 3D structural analysis, in-situ mechanical analysis, theoretical and computational modeling, and design and manufacturing of bio-inspired materials. I hope this talk can stimulate more discussions among research areas such as material synthesis, biology, biomimetics, mechanics, and manufacturing.

Dr. Ling Li is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. Prior to his position at Virginia Tech, Dr. Li obtained his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT and subsequently conducted his postdoctoral study at Harvard. His research aims to understand the fundamental structure-property relationships and formation mechanisms of biological structural materials via a combination of experimental and computational approaches, and to develop bio-inspired structural and multifunctional materials. Dr. Li has received a number of prestigious awards, including Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award (2016), AFOSR Young Investigator Award (2018), Outstanding Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech (2019), 3M Non-Tenure Faculty Award (2020), and NSF CAREER Award (2020). His research has been published in Science, PNAS, Nature Materials, Nature Communication, and etc., which are widely reported by many media outlets, such as ScienceDaily, Yahoo News, Discovery News, etc.