SciAm 50 list recognizes White, Sottos
Aerosopace Engineering Professor Scott R. White and affiliate Professor Nancy R. Sottos were included in the SciAM 50 for 2007, a distinct honor that appears in the January 2008 edition ofScientific American magazine.
The awards list recognizes 50 individuals, teams, companies and other organizations whose accomplishments in research, business or policymaking during 2006-2007 demonstrate outstanding technological leadership. White and Sottos were recognized for their development of self-healing materials.
Together with their colleagues Jeff Moore (Chemistry) and Jennifer Lewis (Materials Science and Engineering) and former PhD student Katie Toohey (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), they recently demonstrated a new material that mimics human skin by healing itself time after time using an embedded, three-dimensional microvascular supply network.
"In the same manner that a cut in the skin triggers blood flow to promote healing, a crack in these new materials will trigger the flow of healing agent to repair the damage," Sottos explained. In the researchers’ original approach, self-healing materials consisted of a microencapsulated healing agent and a catalyst distributed throughout a composite matrix. When the material cracked, microcapsules would rupture and release healing agent. The healing agent then reacted with the embedded catalyst to repair the damage.
"With repeated damage in the same location, however, the supply of healing agent would become exhausted,” White added. “In our new circulation-based approach, there is a continuous supply of healing agent, so the material could heal itself indefinitely."
White and Sottos, of Materials Science and Engineering, are both Donald Biggar Willett Professors. Moore is Murchison-Mallory Professor of Chemistry and Lewis is Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. White, Sottos, Moore and AE Professor Philippe Geubelle, co-invented self-healing plastic; Lewis and White pioneered direct ink writing of three-dimensional microvascular networks.
The SciAM 50 honorees are celebrated for their contributions to a wide variety of areas, such as biotechnology, microelectronics, energy and genetics.
Winners over the past several years have included Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, research philanthropist Fred Kavli, renowned stem cell researcher Douglas A. Melton, professor of the natural sciences at Harvard; and Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, professor of molecular neurobiology and biophysics of Rockefeller University.