The National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research are financing a research project that will design an instrument to measure the construction of biological and composite substances.
The research is led by Dr. Daniel Blair, Assistant Professor and chief researcher of the Soft Matter Group in the Physics Department at Georgetown University. Blair informed that they are studying the manner in which polymeric networks respond to continuous shear strains. The team also comprises researchers from the Technische Universtaet Muenchen (Technical University of Munich). They utilized the muscle filament, or actin, to develop a polymer network and also designed a rheometer and confocal microscope to measure the mechanical characteristics of substances. The system detects polymers unseen during investigations that involved some amount of mechanical pressure. The devices could see the fluorescently tagged actin network and captured the movement of the polymer filaments' in a three dimensional format when mechanical pressure was applied.
The microscopes will help create artificial muscle tissue for the Air Force. The substances could also be used in nano-robots. The devices also enabled the team to view the process of shearing during the Mullins Effect when bio-polymers soften. The team will utilize the Mullins Effect as a mechanical standard to probe the characteristics of biological and composite networks.