KPTC 120 5720 S. Ellis Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60637
5720 S. Ellis Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Transcending Scales for Future Eco-Manufacturing of Light-Weight and High Strength, and Environmentally Responsive Materials
Solid concrete or steel are basic materials to construct sustainable buildings, bridges, and automobiles. However, steel is heavy, and concrete mixtures have no shapes before drying. Polymers and composites potentially offer strong and lightweight alternatives, however, none can match the performance of steel and concrete, and polymers have their own recycling problems. Meanwhile, how to transcend research from nano-/microscale to building scale, where gravity plays a key role, is a question. Here, I will present our approaches to manufacture different types of nano- and microstructured design elements from polymer nanocomposites with intrinsic anisotropy, followed by eco-construction via origami/kirigami engineering, modular assembly, and on-demand printing to achieve lightweight, high mechanical strength, and novel wave-matter interactions with fewer parts and reduced assembly. Further, by introduction of functional nanomaterials and programming the alignment of mesogens and functional nanomaterials in liquid crystal elastomer composites, we demonstrate reversible and reprogrammable shape changes for their reuse and repurpose.