A new way of designing hard materials to withstand repeated shocks without cracking, developed at U-M chemical engineering, has received the top honor in a global academic technology competition. Nicholas A. Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Chemical Engineering, is one of five “Gold Prize” award winners in the 2018 Mobile World Scholar Challenge.
Kotov’s “biomimetic vibration isolation” technology uses nanostructured materials to build composites that replicate the structure and function of tooth enamel, which has remained unusually consistent across all species from all geological eras. Enamel marries the ability to dampen vibration and shock with structural strength, two qualities that are difficult to bring together, making it an ideal structural model for a new rigid and durable material.
The resulting biomimetic materials include a multitude of potential applications for mobile technology used in environments where constant vibrations are inescapable. For example, it could be used in a mobile phone or an automotive computer as a protective layer to protect the sensitive electronic components from the shock and vibrations.
The new materials are lighter and more effective at vibration absorption than other solids designed for the same purpose. The biomimetic design could also potentially become cheaper to produce than current commercially available materials.
The inaugural mobile competition was held by the GSMA, an organization that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide and annually organizes the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile technology event. It aims to discover and highlight innovative technologies developed at universities worldwide. Participants submitted their inventions that promoted the science behind and potential uses for their technology research.
The video highlighting Kotov’s research will be presented during the 2018 GSMA Mobile World Congress, which begins February 26 in Barcelona, Spain.
Kotov is also a professor of biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering.