Biomechanics and Biomaterials

Biological materials offer a rich array of physical phenomena whose understanding is rapidly developing in significant part because of the research of this group and colleagues across the Pratt School Engineering and the Duke University Medical Center.

Biomechanics and biomaterials research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science focuses on:

  • Biomaterials and biomedical materials
  • Biorheology
  • Biostealth surfaces
  • Cell membrane and surface engineering
  • Cell rheology
  • Mechanics and biomechanics
  • Mechanical properties of kidney stones
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Biochip engineering
  • Electromagnetism of fluids

Research project examples include nanomechanical fingerprints of UV damage to DNA; understanding the elasticity of fibronectin fibrils measured by single molecule force spectroscopy; evaluation of synthetic phospholipid ultrasound contrast agents; structural and mechanical properties of biopolymers; experimental scanning probe microscopy techniques and computational methods involving molecular dynamics simulations and ab initio quantum mechanical calculations; exploiting atomic force microscopy techniques to develop new ultra-sensitive assays for detecting and examining DNA damage, the process underlying carcinogenesis, and to increase mechanistic understanding of DNA damage and repair processes; forming, coating and encapsulation of solid, liquid and gaseous particles in the colloidal size range; ultrasound-targeted gene delivery and activation; synergistic combination of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and immunotherapy for cancer treatment; innovations in shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) technology; and mechanics and bioeffects of acoustic cavitation.

Opportunities for Graduate Study

The department offers an M.S./Ph.D. with a study track in materials science and a core in soft materials and interfaces. The course options emphasize theoretical and applied polymer science, biomedical materials, electrochemistry, physical surface chemistry and biochip engineering.

The department also offers a Master of Engineering (MEng) with an emphasis in materials science and engineering. This 30-credit degree program includes course work towards departmental requirements, an area of specialization, business and management fundamentals, and an internship or applied research experience. Students have the flexibility to focus on topics of soft wet materials, nanostructures, and materials science relevant to career preparation for the industrial sector.