Nature produces a remarkable diversity of intricately architectured mineralized composites that in many instances far exceeds the performance of their modern engineering analogs. Despite significant investigations into structure-function relationships in these complex biological materials, in many instances, there is a lack of critical information regarding the specific functional roles of many components of these structural hierarchies. Here we introduce the technique of multi-material additive manufacturing, which we employ as a research tool to unravel the functional complexities of a wide range of biological materials including laminated composites, photonic architectures, and low drag surface coatings.
Dr. James C. Weaver is a Senior Research Scientist at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he runs the Wide Field Electron Optics Laboratory. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology and Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and went on to pursue postdoctoral studies in Molecular Biology, Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Earth History. Working at the interface between zoology, materials science, biomedical engineering, and multi-material additive manufacturing, his main research interests focus on investigating structure-function relationships in hierarchically ordered biological composites and the fabrication of their synthetic analogs. He has played critical roles in the development of various model systems for the study of a wide range of biomineralization processes and is an internationally recognized and award winning scanning electron microscopist. With a strong history of national and international academic and industrial collaborations, he has coauthored more than 150 journal articles in the biological, physical, and geological sciences. His work has been featured on the covers of more than 40 scientific journals and he has contributed to numerous collaborative art installations which have been exhibited in Berlin, Boston, Frankfurt, London, New York, and Paris.