Fibrous materials constitute the basis of all living systems, including plant cell walls, arthropod cuticles, moth cocoon, eye cornea, tissue, and bone. These materials are inspirational for reinforcing elements in composites, textile fabrics, or filters.
The lepidopteran fluidic system offers a unique model for the integration of nano- and microchannels.
Living in an environment surrounded by natural enemies and microbial pathogens, arthropods have evolved distinct strategies to thicken the blood and deal with wounding and potential infection or to produce silk to assist in capturing prey and in filter-feeding. These complex fluids are attractive and inspirational for the development of synthetic biomaterials.
Working with small organisms requires the development of new instrumentation. Using nanotechnology guided by modeling, the development of special instrumentation enables new discoveries.
Honed over millions of years of evolution by natural selection, arthropods — insects, spiders, and their relatives — have thrived, owing in part to the structural and mechanical diversity of their feeding, sensing and immune systems. Performance of these systems significantly depends on their multifunctional fibers and nanofiber networks, with built-in sensing, actuation, deployment, and pumping abilities.
AIMS lab studies the mechanisms of materials organization in arthropods spanning different scales, from nano- to micro- to macro-scales. We work on elucidation of the arthropod mechanisms of food uptake, transport, and extraction; sensing, actuation, and deployment of feeding and sensing devices; and stimulus-responsive changes in materials properties of their blood. To investigate these systems, we develop new tools, techniques, and theories.
We apply the knowledge gained from natural systems to develop arthropod-inspired multifunctional and adaptive materials and interfaces.