Synthetic “Intelligence”

Through many years of evolution, Nature has created biological systems that are considered “living” and truly “intelligent”. From cells, to plants, to animals and human beings, these biological systems are capable of performing complex and advanced functions autonomously. They receive energy and information from their surroundings, analyze the situation, and respond accordingly – importantly, everything is performed within its own system. Biological systems are mainly made up of cells. Although cells are very small with the characteristic length of micrometers, they are considered “living” and “intelligent” systems themselves. They are single entities that are capable of receiving and dissipating energy for carrying out a whole range of analytical, regulatory, and practical functions. The best man-made systems are based on electronics. However, there are limitations of electronic systems; for example, they need batteries or to be tethered to a power supply. They are incompatible to be used in many applications (e.g., drug delivery in the human body). The overall program of our research is to investigate and design matter, materials, and systems that are smart (i.e., interact with their surroundings), capable of receiving energy (i.e., self-powered), and able to perform desirable functions. Our research involves materials and systems that are not based on electronics. In general, our research is highly interdisciplinary. It involves the combination of Materials Science (i.e., functional and smart materials), Chemistry (i.e., molecular design and interactions), and Chemical Engineering (i.e., fundamental principles and operations). Our investigations range from studying fundamental physical-chemical phenomena to practical applications. A brief overview of our interdisciplinary research is indicated in the scheme below. For more details of our research, please refer to the following links:

The important keywords in our research includes:

[Scientific]    Stimuli-responsive polymers, functional particles, electrostatics, static charge, contact electrification, transport phenomena (reaction diffusion, fluid mechanics), self-assembly, and cell mechanics, electrochemistry, chemical networks

[Application]    Drug delivery, energy harvesting, 3D printing, non-charging surfaces, energy harvesting