Air Force Grants 1.5 Million to UCI Researchers for Purchase of New Instruments

Tools enable testing of biological and synthetic materials under extreme conditions 


March 21, 2024 - The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, under its Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, has granted materials scientists at UC Irvine $1.5 million for the acquisition of sophisticated nanomechanical and chemical characterization equipment for biomaterial analysis and a 3D printing platform to be used and biomimetic processing. Combined with existing tools in the laboratory of principal investigator David Kisailus, UCI professor of materials science and engineering, these new instruments will facilitate high-speed nanomechanical testing of materials under extreme temperatures (from cryogenic to ultrahot), nanometer-resolution Fourier transform infrared mapping via an atomic force microscope and a high-resolution, direct-ink-write multimaterial printer. Kisailus and his team members will use the new tools for the dedicated, high-resolution analysis of biological, geological and engineering materials under extreme conditions as well as for the development of biomimetic multiscale functional materials.

“The equipment will greatly enhance my lab’s ability to pursue multiple current and future Air Force Office of Scientific Research projects involving analyses of the structural and chemical elements underpinning robust biological materials, their localized mechanical properties and their translation to bio-inspired structures,” Kisailus said. “As we continue to investigate multiple biological systems, we realize that these materials could provide the blueprints for a new generation of mechanically robust structures that also can mitigate damage under thermal or radiation extremes. These designs could be used in many applications, including aerospace, automotive, personal protection and beyond.” He added: “The addition of a multimaterial direct-ink-write 3D printer will also help provide a translatable pathway to multimaterial and multiscale functional composites. In addition, these systems will enable the cross-training of students in materials science, mechanical engineering and marine biology and expose them to principles of structural materials and bio-inspired materials synthesis, stimulating their growth as future scientists and engineers.”

– Brian Bell