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Bioinspired Materials

Biological systems and the materials they synthesise are of interest to materials scientists because they provide novel solutions to challenges involving synthetic materials. For example, toughness and strength are two material properties that are generally mutually exclusive to each other - improving the strength of a man-made material usually tends to decrease its toughness.

However, biological systems are able to overcome this through precise nanoscale controle of the amorphous and crystalline state.  In systems such as skin, a combination of biologically produced fibers with differing elastic moduli work in synergy to resist extension.  In biological composites, such as bones and teeth, precise control of the amorphous protein phase, the mineral phase, and crucially the interface between the two, are known to be resposible for their unique load-baring properties.

These materials tend to be hierarchical in nature, meaning that no single characterisation method or tool is suitible to providing a complete answer to the question of how their properties are related to their structure.  Instead, we use a variety of tools, including vibrational spectroscopy, WAXS/SAXS, DFT, atomistic computer modelling, and coarse-graining.

People specializing in this area

Academic Staff

Dr James Elliott, MA (Cantab) CPhys MInstPhys

I am directing projects on an EPSRC-funded consortium project entitled "The Interface between Materials and Biology" (MIB), which aims to apply computational modelling to experimental problems involving biological and biomimetic materials. Further information on MIB at:

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Dr Patrick Kiley

I am interested in the energetic properties of the collagen-solvent and collagen-mineral interface, both of which are known to affect its tensile properties.  Because collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, where it serves as the principal load-bearing molecule in most tissues, including bones, teeth, and skin, understanding how this interface affects collagen stability and tensile properties is of biomedical importance.

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Multi-scale modelling of carbon nanotube reinforced crosslinked interfaces

Jan 28, 2017

A new paper by James A. Elliott and his Turkish collaborators Elif Ozden-Yenigun and Canan Atilgan is published in Computational Materials Science

Chirality-independent characteristic crystal length in carbon nanotube textiles measured by Raman spectroscopy

Jan 28, 2017

A new paper by John S. Bulmer, Thurid S. Gspann, Jon S. Barnard and James A. Elliott is published in Carbon.

MML Christmas Dinner 16-12-16

Dec 23, 2016

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, from the Macromolecular Materials Lab.

High thermal conductivities of carbon nanotube films and micro-fibres and their dependence on morphology

Dec 12, 2016

A new paper by Thurid S. Gspann, Stefan M. Juckes, John F. Niven, Michel B. Johnson, James A. Elliott, Mary Anne White, Alan H. Windle is published in Carbon.

A summer tea time and farewell to Segio

Jul 22, 2016

The MML group had a nice tea time in the department on the hottest day of this summer. Dr Sergio Estravís has successfully finished his current research associate position in this summer. We wish Sergio has a greater success in the future.

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