News & Events

Soft Materials Innovation for Health and Sustainability

Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - 12:45 to 14:00
Dr. Xuanhe Zhao
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Event Category: 
LMC - Lectures in Modern Chemistry
Dr. Zachary Hudson
Connect via Zoom

Zoom Details:

Meeting ID: 646 3061 7478

Passcode: 628797

Polymers and water are the major components that constitute most living species on the earth, ranging from animals, plants, and fungi to bacteria. Polymers are also pervasive and indispensable in almost every aspect of our daily life, ranging from food, clothing, housing, and healthcare to transportation, communication, and entertainment. Furthermore, over 6% of global electricity generated from coal is used to make plastics, and microplastics are already ubiquitous in global biosphere. Intrigued by their ubiquity and impacts, MIT Zhao Lab is focused on the study and development of soft materials and systems mainly constituted of polymers and water. In this talk, I will first discuss a general strategy to design new soft materials that possess extreme physical, chemical, and biological properties – via bioinspired and rational design of unconventional polymer networks. Then I will illustrate the impacts of soft materials innovation on health and sustainability with examples including soft robots ​that treat strokes under remote control and wearable devices that image deep organs over days. I will propose two challenges in fundamental science and technology:

  • Can we image the full human body over days to months continuously? 
  • Can we edit the full human body with micro-robots minimally invasively?

I will conclude the talk with a vision for the future development and impacts of soft materials and systems – aided by and synergized with modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and precision medicine.