MIT Professor Angela Belcher to Talk Friday on Nature and Materials Science

January 21, 2009 — Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Angela Belcher will give a public talk, "From Nature and Back Again … Giving New Life to Materials for Energy, Electronics, Medicine and the Environment," Friday at 2 p.m. in the Biomechanical Engineering Lecture Hall, room 1041, building MR-5. Refreshments will be available at 1:45 p.m.

Belcher, MIT's Germeshuasen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor of biological engineering, is a MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient.

She will discuss how the properties of living systems could be harnessed by researchers to make advanced technologies that are smarter, more adaptable and synthesized to be compatible with the environment. These materials could be designed to address many scientific and technological problems in electronics, military, medicine and energy applications.

She will address conditions under which organisms first evolved to make materials and scientific approaches to move beyond naturally evolved materials to genetically imprint advanced technologies.

Examples include a virus-enabled lithium ion rechargeable battery that Belcher and her research team recently built that has many improved properties over conventional batteries, as well as materials for solar and display technologies.

Belcher is a materials chemist with expertise in the fields of biomaterials, biomolecular materials, organic-inorganic interfaces and solid-state chemistry. The focus of her research is understanding and using the process by which nature makes materials in order to design novel hybrid organic-inorganic electronic and magnetic materials. Her interdisciplinary research brings together the fields of inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and electrical engineering.

Among Belcher's awards are the 2000 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering and the 1999 Dupont Young Investigators Award.

— By Fariss Samarrai