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From Nature and Back Again – Giving New Life to Materials for Energy, Electronics, Medicine and the Environment

Angela Belcher
Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This talk will describe conditions under which organisms first evolved to generate materials and discuss how one might move beyond naturally evolved materials to genetically imprinted advanced technologies. Organisms have been making exquisite materials for over 500 million years, but the types of materials that organisms have evolved to work with are limited. However, there are many properties of living systems that could be harnessed to make advanced technologies smarter, more adaptable, and more compatible with the environment. One approach is to evolve organisms to work with a more diverse set of building blocks and design them to address electronic, military, medicine, and energy applications. Examples include a virus-enabled lithium ion rechargeable battery and materials for solar and display technologies.

Anyone outside NIST wishing to attend must be sponsored by a NIST employee and receive a visitor badge. For more information, call Kum J. Ham at 301-975-4203.

Colloquia are videotaped and available in the NIST Research Library.

Created October 22, 2009, Updated January 3, 2017