Synthetic Mimics of Biological Materials
Dhirendra S. Katti, Indian Institute of Technology – Kanpur

Man has learnt a lot from nature, and designing materials is no exception. Nature’s designs of materials have been some of the best known designs’, hence ‘biomimetics’ has emerged as an important strategy for material design. While using materials that nature provides ‘as is’ can be an intuitive approach, there can be difficulties associated with isolation and purification of biological materials and in some cases limitations on the extent of material available. Hence, synthetic mimics of natural materials have evolved as an alternative to using natural materials. The mimicking of natural materials can be of multiple types including chemical mimicking and physical mimicking. The type of mimicking desired for material development is normally governed by the end application, for example, chemical mimicking would be preferred in applications wherein the chemical constitution of the material is central to the function/performance of the material. Similarly, natural materials that enable enhanced mechanical properties by virtue of their structure / architecture would prompt structural / architectural mimicking that would classify as physical mimicking. In this presentation, I will start with the rationale for working with synthetic mimics and then describe specific examples of chemical and physical mimics with an emphasis on approach used and the associated challenges. The presentation will end with a brief future perspective in this area of ‘synthetic mimics of biological materials’.

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