Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Design by Nature

Saturday, May 16, 2015 | 1 - 4 pm | Free

Join UC-Riverside Bourns College of Engineering Professor David Kisailus and his students as they share lessons learned from nature about the design of the next generation of engineering products.

Plants and animals always seem to construct the right tools for survival, and they do it with environmentally friendly mechanisms and materials. For example, Assistant Professor David Kisailus has studied the chiton, a marine snail found off the coast of California. He is using the snail's teeth to  improve solar cells and lithium-ion batteries. Who would have thought?!

Live specimens of the animals that inspire research at the College will be on hand for your own observations!

All Ages Welcome. This a great opportunity for Middle and High School students to learn more about science and science careers.

To learn more about UCR Bourns College of Engineering, visit their website: http://www.engr.ucr.edu/

The research presented was funded by the
National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office and Winston Chung Global Energy.


1. Kisailus Biomimetic and Nanostructured Materials Lab
Nature has evolved efficient strategies to synthesize materials that often exhibit exceptional mechanical properties. This is because biological systems can control the synthesis and hierarchical assembly of nano- to micro-scaled building blocks. In the Kisailus Biomimetics and Nanostructured Materials Lab, we are study these organisms to produce light-weight and tough biomimetic composites for aerospace and automotive applications and nanostructured materials for solar and battery applications.

2. What is a nanometer?
How small is “nano”? Imagine dividing the thickness of your hair 100,000 times. That is approximately how small a nanometer is. Here, we give examples to show how small this feature really is.

3. Using sunscreen for solar cell and water purification
Chris Yang, Wei Tan, Louis Lancaster, Wenting Hou, David Kisailus

Due to the rapidly growing industry, soaring oil prices and environmental pollution are becoming huge concerns. Using processes inspired from biological systems, we are taking materials found in sunscreen and shrinking them down to the nanoscale to make the next generation of solar cells and photocatalytic materials for water purification.

4. Shell-Inspired Li-ion Batteries
Ibrahim El-Haleed, Kuang Sheng, Kevin Yoo, Parawee Pumwongpitak, Jianxin Zhu, David Kisailus

The clean energy offered by solar power is becoming a very attractive source to replace fossil fuels due to its long-term benefits. However, the energy needs to be stored in a battery so that it can be used during the night or on cloudy days. Inspired by nature, we are making nanosized materials with unique shapes and sizes for batteries that are environmentally friendly and highly efficient.

5. The Ultimate Predator! Making Body Armor from Shrimp?

Jeniene Abugherir, Nicholas Yaraghi, David Kisailus

The stomatopod is an aggressive marine crustacean that uses a set of hammer-like appendages called dactyl clubs to smash through snail shells and other mineralized prey with incredible force and speed. Here, we study the structure-function relationships of this natural material and apply design insights from nature towards the development of biomimetic engineering materials that are tough, light-weight, and efficiently produced.

6. Shell-inspired Airplanes and Electric Vehicles?
Jessica Hernandez, Chris Salinas, David Kisailus

Through hundreds millions of years of evolution, snails have evolved hard and light-weight shells, made of chalk, to defend against predators. We study the nanostructured architecture of these shells to make light-weight and tougher composites for aerospace and automotive structures.

7. Ocean Creature Uses Magnetic Teeth to Eat Islands
Olivia Daou, Evelyn Barajas Perez, Steven Herrera, David Kisailus

Chitons use 70 rows of magnetic teeth to chew through rock. This ocean dwelling animal is about a foot long, looks like a cow tongue, and has given engineers the blueprints for ultra hard, abrasion-resistant tunnel boring and machining tools.

8. Revealing Mysteries from Fossils of an Ancient Sea
Ashlee Tyler, Mathew Knauss and Nigel Hughes

We’ve all heard the phrase “going round in circles” - well it’s been happening for over 490 million years! UCR scientists are studying the circular tracks made by ancient creatures at the bottom of the oceans that covered north America at that time - when the shoreline was as far inland as Wisconsin! We’re still trying to crack this half billion year old midwestern puzzle, but interesting clues are emerging!

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