The objective of this EFRI-SEED project is to explore materiality from nano- to macroscales based upon understanding of nonlinear, dynamic human cell behaviors on geometrically-defined substrates. The insights as to how cells can modify their immediate extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment with minimal energy and maximal effect will lead to the biomimetic design and engineering of highly aesthetic, passive materials, and sensors and imagers that will be integrated into responsive building skins at the architectural scale. The PIs will (1) use architectural and computational algorithms to guide the design and fabrication of soft substrates with generic 1-D to 3-D geometrical patterns; (2) quantitatively measure and visualize in real-time how human pulmonary artery vascular smooth muscle cells, that interact to contract or relax these substrates to modify substrate geometry; (3) redeploy architectural and algorithmic tools, and model and simulate pattern and material manipulation resulting from nonlinear cellular behaviors so as to transfer this fine-scale design ecology to the macro-scale design of adaptive building skins; (4) apply the understanding to optimal design of materials and geometries that are responsive to environmental factors (e.g. heat, humidity and light); (5) design biomimetic sensors and control systems using CMOS and nanotechnology, and (6) transform the concept from modeling, materials manipulation, and device integration at the nano- and microscales to the design of responsive, yet passive building skins at the architectural and human scale. This project represents a unique avant garde model for sustainable design via the fusion of the architectural design studio with laboratory-based scientific research. In turn, this will benefit a diverse range of science and technologies, including the construction of energy efficient and aesthetic building skins and materials.
The project will create a significant opportunity to excite the general public, thereby provoking and engaging their interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This work will offer an effective tool to recruit and train students at all levels in a highly-integrated research and educational environment. The research results will be disseminated through: (1) (bi)weekly chalk talks and faculty retreats at Penn, annual workshops at the Mid-Atlantic region, and national conferences and workshops; (2) The website of LabStudio for new discoveries in cell science, visualization techniques, materials, fabrication, and computational modeling frameworks developed from this project; (3) Advertising the technology through the Lab-to-Market Forum and LabStudio to attract industrial interest, and (4) Installation of architectural models resulted from the research at international exhibitions. The research contains novel and synergistic activities, including: (1) the study of cellular nano- and micro-mechanics in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine (School of Medicine, SOM); (2) materials fabrication and characterization in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE; School of Applied Science & Engineering, SEAS); (3) architectural design, computational modeling, simulation and digital fabrication in design and research labs in Architecture (School of Design, SOD) and Electrical & Systems Engineering (ESE; SEAS) respectively, and (4) device fabrication and integration in labs in ESE.
The FY 2010 EFRI-SEED Topic that supports this project was sponsored by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorates for Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), and Computer & Information Science and Engineering in collaboration with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Buildings in the U.S. alone account for nearly 40% of the total national energy consumption. Therefore, the design and production of new energy efficient technologies is crucial to successfully meet goals such as the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) put forward by the U.S. DOE, which aims to achieve zero-energy commercial buildings by 2025. Although there have been tremendous innovations in design, material sciences, bio- and information technologies, direct interactions and collaborations between scientists and architects are rare. To address the grand challenge, this EFRI-SEED proposal seeks to explore materiality from nano- to macroscales based upon understanding of non-linear, dynamic human cell behaviors on geometrically-defined substrates. The insights as to how cells can modify their immediate extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment with minimal energy and maximal effect will lead to the biomimetic design and engineering of highly aesthetic, passive materials, and sensors and imagers that will be integrated into responsive building skins at the architectural scale. To achieve these goals, we Fabricated elastomeric wrinkles, 1D channels, 2D membranes, and elastomeric pillar arrays on wrinkle patterns; demonstrated switching from opaque to colorful reflection to transparent window upon mechanical deformation Cultivated smooth muscle cells (normal and diseased) on polymer substrates coated with different types of proteins to study cell spreading as a function of dimensions of substrate geometry, protein chemistry and cell type. Simulated and measured optical responses from different material structures Designed multi-functional, hierarchical responsive building skins, including intensity sensor, motion tracking and temperature sensors Utilized contextural analysis and computational design to generate an eSkin interactive prototype The above results have been presented in several publications, numerous conferences (e.g., ACS, MRS, IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems, and American Thoracic Society International Conference), invited seminars and exhibitions, including 1) ACSA 101 New Constellations/New Ecologies, March – 2013 - San Francisco, CA; 2) en Vie / Alive; 26 April – 1 September 2013, Espace Fondation EDF, Paris; 3) ArchiLab 9, Naturalizing Architecture; Frac Centre, Orleans, France; Sept 2013-March 2014. Two projects are exhibited, i) â€˜eSkin" from the NSF EFRI SEED and ii) Sabin's work on Digital Ceramics. Artifacts such as 3D prints, drawings, models, interactive software and movies are exhibited. The dynamic and interactive prototype is intended to showcase the effects and overall affect of eSkin at a building facade unit scale. The second, titled 'PolyMorph' is composed of 1400+ digitally produced and individually hand cast ceramic components interwoven and networked to form a large rigid surface structure suspended within Les Turbulences at FRAC Centre. 4) eliciting environments / actuating response; Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture, Feb 7 - 10, 2014; http://elicitingenvironments.org - A mini-symposium and exhibition focused on emerging design trends that embed adaptive behavior into architectural matter. Students at all levels and postdocs involved in the project have been exposed to a diverse range of topics in materials science and engineering, biology, electrical engineering and architecture, nano- and microfabrication techniques through new training and outreach opportunities, including REM activities (3 high school students, 4 undergraduate students and 2 postdoc mentors; 5 of them are URM and 5 are females), science demonstrations at K-12 level, science and engineering summer camp for girls, development of a new nano-/microfabrication lab course by PI Yang, senior design projects, interaction with various research groups at University of Pennsylvania (Penn). They learned about the nanoparticle synthesis and assembly, state-of-the-art nano- and microfabrication techniques, circuit design, and sensors and attended architecture seminars. REM mentors received training from Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Penn, and students attended writing, ethics and presentation workshops, attended social networking, and provided program assessment periodically organized by CTL. We also interacted with other EFRI-SEED teams. For example, Yang and Sabin gave invited talks at "The Nature of Programming Matter—Studio One Symposium" organized by Maria Paz Gutierrez at Univ. California, Berkeley. Sabin, Maria Paz Gutierrez, and others will organize a symposium, "Adaptive Architecture & Programmable Matter: Next Generation Building Skins and Systems from nano to macro" at MRS 2015 Spring meeting The new study foster cross-fertilization between experts in materials science and engineering, electrical engineering and optical science, biomedicine and architectural design, nanofabrication and sensing. The highly integrated and interdisciplinary research has lead to development of novel materials as tunable optical windows, color-changing sensors that can be integrated as skin of buildings, as well as a highly sensitive diagnostic tool that generate and detect personalized signatures for individual PAH patients. The imaging methodologies and approaches afforded by the polarization based imagers will lead to novel sensing paradigms for monitoring live cells and the parameter variations in the environment and architectural scenarios. The investigation of cell-matrix interface will lead to novel design and synthesis of bioinspired responsive materials.