Materials Science & Biophysics Research Seminar Series

Spring 2023 Seminar Series

photo of Peter Yunker

Peter Yunker

  • Associate Professor, School of Physics
  • Georgia Institution of Technology

Soft matter physics of the evolution of multicellularity 

Friday, March 17, 2023
Materials and Biophysics Seminar
EC 1204
2 PM – 3 PM

The evolution of multicellularity was transformative for life on Earth, lifting a fundamental limit on organismal complexity. Underlying their success is the ability of multicellular organisms to assemble macro-scale structures with novel functions. However, major gaps in our knowledge about the origin of multicellular organisms persist, largely because multicellularity evolved in the deep past. We circumvent this limitation by evolving multicellularity de novo in the laboratory, using long-term experimental evolution to examine the evolution of complex life. Fundamentally, this research is focused on understanding how clumps of cells evolve into integrated organisms, blending physical and evolutionary insight to understand multicellular organisms as Darwinian materials. Cells live in groups that are mechanically, topologically, geometrically, and functionally constrained by physical interactions, all of which is filtered and amplified by the lens of Darwinian evolution. The central theme of our work is that the evolution of multicellular organisms cannot be understood without considering its physics.

photo of Moumita Das

Moumita Das

  • Associate Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Unraveling the mechanical properties of living systems for developing novel soft materials

Friday, April 21, 2023
Materials and Biophysics Seminar
Presenting Virtually: Microsoft Teams Link
2 PM – 3 PM

Living systems can provide valuable insights for developing novel materials with unique physical properties. Through millions of years of evolution, biological systems have evolved remarkable features such as self-assembly and responsiveness to external stimuli. By comprehending these characteristics, researchers can engineer materials with unprecedented control over their physical properties and functions. In this talk, I will discuss two projects that showcase the significance of understanding the mechanical properties of living systems in material design. The first project examines the extracellular matrix of soft tissues and explores how understanding its mechanical properties can lead to creating artificial tissue constructs with tunable mechanics. Using the framework of rigidity percolation theory, we predict the emergent mechanical properties of healthy and damaged tissues for articular cartilage, and discuss how this understanding can be harnessed to fabricate artificial tissue constructs with tunable mechanics. The second project utilizes functionalized circadian clock proteins to engineer self-assembly kinetics and material properties, highlighting the potential of protein-based reaction networks to impart life-like properties to synthetic systems. These projects illustrate how understanding the mechanical properties of living systems can aid in the development of soft materials with precise control over their physical properties and functions.

photo of Nickolay V Lavrik

Nickolay V Lavrik

  • Staff Scientist, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences,
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Rational design and nanofabrication of deterministically patterned SERS active structures 

Friday, April 28, 2023
Materials and Biophysics Seminar
EC 1204
2 PM – 3 PM

Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has been a subject of continuously intensifying research efforts since its discovery. Yet, many aspects of establishing efficient and reproducible SERS platforms remain very challenging. This talk will discuss a range of technological approaches to SERS-active media and focus more specifically on their rational design, model-driven optimization, and deterministic nanofabrication. Examples of several types of lithographically patterned SERS -active nanostructures implemented by our group at the CNMS and other researchers will be presented. The emphasis will be given to systems that combine several types of optical resonances, in particular dielectric cavity resonators integrated with a noble metal plasmonic nanoparticles. A brief overview of computational approaches to optimization of SERS performance of these systems will also be included. Advantages and disadvantages of lithographically patterned SERS -active nanostructures in comparison to chemically synthesized and templated SERS ones will be discussed in terms of their performance, stability, and manufacturability.

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Seminar Series Organizers

Seminar series sponsored by: Augusta University Research Institute, College of Science and Mathematics, Department of Chemistry and Physics