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Our Research

A Hybridized Laboratory

The Kisailus Biomimetic and Nanostructured Materials Laboratory investigates biomineralized composites in order to derive not only structure–functional relationships (for development of light–weight and tough materials), but also in interpreting mineralization pathways that dictate resulting ultrastructures. The Kisailus lab focuses on gleaning inspiration from these biological systems, or directly using biological constructs, to develop/utilize solution–based processes to synthesize nanoscale materials for energy based applications. This includes trying to understand the relationships between the solution precursor, solvent, and solution conditions (e.g., pH, temperature, etc.) on the nucleation and growth of these materials and their resulting structures and performance. The ultimate goal is to be able to leverage lessons from nature to develop next generation materials for energy conversion and storage as well as for environmental applications.

Featured News

Five Scientific Findings That Could Lead to New Inventions

July 12, 2019

Smithsonian Institute: 5 scientific findings that could lead to new inventions.
Our work on investigating the mantis shrimp provides inspiration!
Read more at Smithsonian magazine

"Car of the Future Made Affordable and Pollution-Free with New Hydrogen Fuel Cell"

Janurary 23, 2018

Your future car that emits only water through its tail pipe just got a lot closer to becoming a reality. Scientists have discovered a cheaper metal can be used to spark the necessary reaction in hydrogen fuel cells-and they still have the capability of functioning at a high performance level...
Read more at Newsweek

"How mantis shrimp pack the meanest punch"

Janurary 16, 2018

Smart boxers bind their hands with strips of cloth to avoid injury when they pack a punch. Millions of years ago, the "smasher" mantis shrimp, one of nature's feistiest predators, figured out a similar way to protect the hammer-like club it uses to pulverize prey with incredible speed and force...
Read more at NSF and UCR Today


Kisailus Biomimetics and Nanostructured Materials Lab

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Nature has evolved the capacity to utilize simple building blocks acquired from the environment to synthesize a wide range of complex structures. This is demonstrated through a multitude of biomineralized organisms that produce remarkably sophisticated three-dimensional organic-inorganic composite materials that in many aspects rival the structural, optical, and mechanical properties afforded by modern materials engineering strategies.

By learning from these organisms (housed in our 500-gallon tropical and cold water system), we aim to produce biomimetic and biologically inspired nanomaterials used in the next generation of advanced materials.

Research in the Kisailus Lab focuses on the ultrastructural investigation of biological minerals and their formation mechanisms in order to design biomimetic composite structures. The ultimate goals of our research are to develop novel "bio-inspired" synthetic processes to create organized nanostructures, which have application in energy storage (e.g., battery) and conversion (e.g., photovoltaic, photocatalytic) applications.

Dr. David Kisailus has a diverse background in chemical engineering, materials science and molecular biology. His current research group includes 2 post-doctoral researchers, 9 graduate students, and 14 undergraduate students and is highly interdisciplinary; Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds including Chemistry, Biology, Neurology, Invertebrate Zoology, Physics, Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, and Environmental Engineering. This diversity is helping us to develop bio-inspired routes to nanostructured materials.


Biologically Inspired Photocatalytically Active Membranes for Water Treatment

Placeholder image To accommodate the ever-increasing demand for clean drinkable water Advances Oxidation Technologies are being employed to degrade harmful compounds. One such technology uses photooxidative reactions to completely mineralize such compounds to carbon dioxide and water using Titanium dioxide. We are developing Titanium dioxide photocatalytic membranes for water treatment systems based on inspiration from biology.

Structure-property relationships in an impact tolerant bio-composite.

Placeholder image Mantis shrimp utilize a dactyl club to smash open the shells of many impressive oceanic biominerals. We are studying the structural features, such as the helicoidal design seen here in a model and fracture surface, which contribute to the material's ultra high toughness. Using advanced characterization and theory we are gleaning many insights which have lead to applicable improvements in the impact resistance of modern composite materials.

High Performance Abrasion-Resistant Materials: Lessons from Nature

Placeholder image Cryptochiton Stelleri, a common inhabitant of the rocky shores of the temperate Northeastern Pacific(A), graze for algae on hard substrates using a specialized rasping organ called the radula, a conveyor belt-like structure located in the mouth( B). The radular teeth are hard and abrassion resisitant as they rasp away the rock together with algae and make the mushroom-like island (A). The goal of this project is to learn from the... read more