MechSE Seminars

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Mechanophenotypics of Active Materials

Event Type
Sascha Hilgenfeldt
4100 Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building
Mar 19, 2024   4:00 pm  
Dr. Sulin Zhang - Department Material Science and Engineering, Penn State University
Shea Brunson


Active-matter systems are driven by continuous flows of energy, matter, and entropy, during which energy metabolism generates mechanical forces that reconfigure energy landscapes and morphological phenotypes, destroying established patterns near equilibrium while creating new patterns far from equilibrium. My talk will explore the generation, transmission, and adaptation of mechanical forces within biological and electrochemical cells, elucidating their roles in directing morphogenetic flows that regulate bio/electrochemical activities and functions. Focused examples will be provided to illustrate how the mechanics-biochemistry dialogue is orchestrated in development and repair and is dysregulated in disease and injury, and how the mechanics-electrochemistry synergy is harnessed for energy storage and harvesting and breaks down in battery degradation and failure. The discussion will delve into the fundamental mechanics that intertwines with electro/biochemical processes and will highlight multiscale, Multiphysics computational models that replicate force-driven morphogenetic flows and phenotypic evolution. In closing, I will offer my perspective on this interdisciplinary field through the lens of irreversible thermodynamics, connecting entropy flow and production to memory effects and collective intelligence of active materials, with the aim of harnessing these insights for innovative applications of active materials and beyond.

 About the Speaker

Dr. Sulin Zhang completed his Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2002, under the mentorship by Prof. K. Jimmy Hsia. Following his doctoral studies, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, supervised by Prof. Ted Belytschko. He joined the University of Arkansas in 2005 as an Assistant Professor, and two years later he moved to Pennsylvania State University. At present, he is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State, with courtesy appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Zhang’s research primarily focuses on the roles of mechanical forces and stresses in materials, chemistry, and biology. He is the recipient of the Early Career Development Award from National Science Foundation in 2007, and the PSEAS Outstanding Research Award in 2016 from Penn State. Dr. Zhang is the founding Editor for the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, and an editorial board member for npj Computational Materials.

Host: Professor Sascha Hilgenfeldt

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