The interdisciplinary team in IRG 2 seeks to address a grand challenge in materials research of bridging the electronic design capability of hard electronic materials with the soft, adaptive and three-dimensional nature of biology. Our strategy is to utilize two-dimensional materials, which have similar stiffnesses to biological membranes like lipid bilayers, yet have diverse electronic properties allowing the construction of fully-functional electronic devices at nanometer length scales. We will engineer novel hybrid nanosystems by interfacing two-dimensional heterostructures with biological materials like lipids, proteins, as well as other nanosystems like gold nanoparticles and apply crumpling and nanotemplating to induce deformations that are large compared with the dimensions of the materials. Our goal is to advance a fundamental understanding of how functional properties of nanomaterials and bio-interfaces are tuned by large multi-scale deformations where the conventional scaling laws of continuum mechanics and electronics break down.
This work will enable the design and discovery of materials and devices capable of being highly deformed and integrated into diverse environments without losing functionality, and potentially enhancing functionality. Conformable electronic materials that operate in dynamic 3D environments would enable true wearable electronics, and allow direct interfacing with cells and tissues, enabling new in-situ medical diagnostic technologies, wearable or implantable biosensors, as well as direct interfacing of human brains with computers.