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Micro-/Nano-Scale Systems Engineering: A Bio-inspired Approach
with Mingjun Zhang, Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
1 p.m.
Engineering Research Center (ENGRC) 490 [map]

View seminar flier

abstract: The goal of this talk is to demonstrate, through illustration of recent work on naturally occurring nanoparticles and energy-efficient propulsion mechanisms of swimming microorganisms, that a bio-inspired engineering approach may offer opportunities for innovations in micro-/nano-scale systems engineering.

In the first part of the talk, Mingjun Zhang will discuss naturally occurring and bio-inspired nanoparticles. He will show how naturally occurring nanoparticles from ivy, a carnivorous fungus, and tea can be used in drug delivery, cancer immunochemotherapy and tissue engineering.

The second part of the talk will discuss how Giardia, a common human parasite, employs a unique flagella-based swimming mechanism for energy-efficient propulsion, and why the curved swimming trajectories are more energy efficient than linear trajectories for whirligig beetles, which have been claimed to be one of the highest measured for a thrust-generating apparatus within the animal kingdom.

Zhang will share recent research on bio-inspired nanoparticles, nano-adhesive, nanocomponent-based micro-/nano-robots and bio-inspired energy-efficient propulsion systems for large-scale swimming robots. The talk concludes that the keys for bio-inspired engineering lie in the ability to understand the underlying principles of biological systems, and extract from the essential biological functions or properties for inspiration. Zhang proposes a three-step approach, including the elucidation of unique functions and properties of biological systems, the identification and extraction of working principles at the micro-/nano-scale and the enhancement as well as integration of these principles for synergistic development of engineered systems.

biosketch: Mingjun Zhang received his D.Sc. degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and his Ph.D. degree from Zhejiang University, P. R. China. He also earned M.S. degrees in Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. After working 7 years in life science instrumentation industry in the Silicon Valley, he started his academic career as an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2008. Since then, his group has made several original contributions on naturally occurring nanoparticles, energy-efficient propulsion mechanisms and bio-inspiration for micro-/nano-scale systems engineering. Zhang’s current research focuses on bio-inspired nanoparticles, and flagella-based energy-efficient propulsion.

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