Living systems sense, respond to, and harvest energy from the changing environment by interweaving chemistry, mechanics, optics, electronics, and fluid dynamics across time and length scales. In this lecture, materials chemist Joanna Aizenberg will give us a taste of how the inspiration from nature teaches us to break barriers between these fields in the synthetic realm and leads to fascinating new concepts in materials design. She will look at a deep sea sponge and envision a green, illuminated skyscraper that harvests energy from the wind. The brittle star’s intricate skeleton will inspire dynamic optical systems that can collect light. She will present cilia-inspired adaptive hairy surfaces that alter their wetting, optical, and adhesive behavior via chemomechanical reconfiguration of tiny nanostructures. Creating liquid-sensing “noses” from chemically patterned photonic crystals inspired by butterflies, or ultra-slippery, antifouling surfaces with self-tuning transparency inspired by pitcher plant and cacti – these are just the beginning of the multifunctional, dynamic materials possibilities waiting to be explored at the interdisciplinary border between biology, chemistry, and physics.
Joanna Aizenberg pursues a broad range of research interests that include biomimetics, smart materials, wetting phenomena, bio-nano interfaces, self-assembly, crystal engineering, surface chemistry, structural color and biomineralization. She received the B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1981, the M.S. degree in Physical Chemistry in 1984 from Moscow State University, and the Ph.D. degree in Structural Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1996.
After spending nearly a decade at Bell Labs, Joanna joined Harvard University, where she is the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Director of the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology and Platform Leader in the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The Aizenberg lab's research is aimed at understanding some of the basic principles of biological architectures and the economy with which biology solves complex problems in the design of multifunctional, adaptive materials. She then uses biological principles as guidance in developing new, bio-inspired synthetic routes and nanofabrication strategies that would lead to advanced materials and devices, with broad implications in fields ranging from architecture to energy efficiency to medicine.
Aizenberg is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and she is a Fellow of American Physical Society and Materials Research Society. Dr. Aizenberg received numerous awards from the American Chemical Society and Materials Research Society, including Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience, Ronald Breslow Award for the Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry, Arthur K. Doolittle Award in Polymeric Materials, ACS Industrial Innovation Award, and was recognized with two R&D 100 Awards for best innovations in 2012 and 2013 for the invention of a novel class of omniphobic materials and watermark ink technologies. In 2015 she received Harvard’s most prestigious Ledlie Prize that is awarded for the most valuable contribution to science made by a Harvard scientist.
Joanna has served at the Board of Directors of the Materials Research Society and at the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. She served on the Advisory Board of Langmuir and Chemistry of Materials, on Board of Reviewing Editors of Science Magazine, and is an Editorial Board Member of Advanced Materials.
This initiative is a collaboration between the Department of Architecture, Integrative Biology, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.
Sponsored by IIS - Institute of International Studies Interdisciplinary Faculty Program, University of California, Berkeley