Ye Zhang wins Materials Research Society Poster Award

Ye Zhang, a Postdoctoral Fellow from Prof. Bing Xu’s research group at Brandeis, won the 2012 MRS Fall Meeting Poster Awards for her poster titled Self-oscillatory Hydrogels Driven by Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction within the symposium on Bioinspired Directional Surfaces-From Nature to Engineered Textured Surfaces & Precision Polymer Materials-Fabricating Functional Assemblies, Surfaces, Interfaces, and Devices. The goal of the project is to make materials that operate like synthetic cardiac or intestinal muscles; feed them and they will pump forever, or as long as the arteries remain open. Ye, the poster’s lead author, is a member of the Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) working on project involving the groups of Profs. Bing Xu, Irving Epstein and Seth Fraden of the Chemistry and Physics Departments.

Ye’s work focuses on the development and study of active matter based on non-linear chemical dynamics, specifically the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. Beginning two years ago she systematically modified a class of gels that exhibit periodic volume oscillations which were produced by other groups. First, Ye succeeded in significantly improving the amplitude of volume oscillations. Next, she developed several novel self-oscillatory systems and established a systematic way to improve the bulk material properties of the synthetic heart.  To build a reliable beating heart, Ye optimized the molecules building the material at the molecular level of tens to hundreds of atoms, or scales of 1 nm and then figured out how to assemble them into networks of polymers on the scales of 10 – 100 nm, and then further assembled them on a longer length scale, into elastic networks on the scales of microns, and finally sculpted the resulting rubbery materials using photolithographic and microfluidic methods into useful shapes for study and application. Ye’s award is a recognition of her contribution to molecular engineering and serves as a quintessential example of the  “bottom-up” construction methods exemplified by the interdisciplinary teams of the Brandeis MRSEC.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and the Robot Research Initiative (RRI), Chonnam National University, South Korea

 

Dr. Jong-Oh Park (left) and Dr. Seth Fraden pause in front of the MOU banner during the inauguration ceremony.

On August 10, 2012 Dr. Jong-Oh Park and Dr. Sukho Park, Director and Principal Investigator of the Robot Research Initiative (RRI), respectively, visited Brandeis as part of an inauguration ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) (Director: Seth Fraden, PhD) and the RRI (Director: Jong-Oh Park, Dr.-Ing). The RRI is a world leader in the field of robotics, focusing on microscale engineering applications and surgery, while the Brandeis MRSEC program focusses on biomaterials and active matter. The two institutions have agreed to work together to transform cutting-edge biophysical science into engineering applications for drug delivery.

Collaboration between the two institutions was first established on March 1, 2012, with a three-year subcontract (KRW  120,000,000 / yr) awarded to the MRSEC by the RRI for the development of micro-swimming robots based on synthetic cilia (PI: Dongshin Kim, co-PI: Zvonimir Dogic). Dr. Fraden welcomed the new Memorandum, saying that it would fortify the collaboration efforts of both institutions.

As part of the exchange program laid out by the MOU, Dr. Sukho Park is planning to visit Brandeis in 2013 to spend a year working on the development of micro-actuators based on microtubules and active hydrogels. There are opportunities for the exchange of students between our two universities.

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