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HEMI Seminar: Ximin He (UCLA)

August 30 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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Bioinspired Adaptive Materials based on Smart Hydrogels: Sensing, Solar Harvesting, and Soft Robotics

Ximin He
Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UCLA

From the cellular level up to the body system level, living organisms are able to sense and adapt to local environment for various functions, from detecting and transporting molecules in the complex bio-fluids to harvesting energy from the environment and generate motions to keep alive. These graceful capabilities arise from the coordination of the chemo-mechanical actions, such as the molecular configuration changes and micro/macroscopic mechanical motions. Stimuli-responsive hydrogels are a class of synthetic materials that can change their volume and physical properties in response to environmental cues including temperature, light, and specific molecules. Inspired by these unique abilities, we have developed a series of dynamic material systems based on hydrogels. This presentation will introduce several novel functionalities that this broad-based platform has demonstrated, ranging from beetle-inspired ultrafast colorimetric sensing of chemical and biological species (Adv. Mater. 2018), autonomous sorting of target molecules in complex biofluids or wastewater (Nat. Chem. 2015), and plant-mimetic adaptive light tracking and harvesting, as well as self-sensing actuators for soft robotics (Sci. Robotics 2019). Overall, the environment-adaptive, dynamic material systems would have broad impacts in areas ranging from wearable sensors to smart devices that regulate energy usage and fully autonomous soft robots.

Ximin He is an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Faculty of California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI). Dr. He was postdoctoral research fellow in Wyss Institute of Bioinspired Engineering and School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University. Dr. He received her PhD in Chemistry from University of Cambridge. Dr. He’s research focuses biologically inspired functional smart materials, chemical and biological sensors, actuators with broad applications in materials science, biomedicine, environment, and energy. She has authored/co-authored papers in leading archival journals, book chapters and has a number of patents. Dr. He is the recipient of many young scientist awards including the National Science Foundation CAREER award, Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program (AFOSR YIP) award, CIFAR Global Scholar, International Society of Bionic Engineering (ISBE) Outstanding Youth Award, Hellman Fellows Award, and UCLA Faculty Career Development Award. Her research on bioinspired homeostatic materials and chemo-mechanical molecule separation have garnered a number of regional and international awards and was featured in >100 international news outlets.