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Predictive chemistry of synthesis to hierarchically porous materials

The hierarchy of materials on porosity, structural, morphological, and component levels is key for high performance in all kinds of applications.


Both plants and animals possess analogous tissues containing hierarchical networks whose pore sizes decrease across multiple scales and finally terminate in size-invariant units like plant stems, leaf veins and vascular and respiratory systems. Natural hierarchical materials provide hierarchical branching and precise diameter-ratios for connecting multi-scale pores from macro to micro levels and have evolved to maximize mass transport and rates of reactions. The underlying physical principles of this optimized hierarchical design are embodied in Murray’s law. However, we are yet to realize the benefit of mimicking nature’s Murray networks in synthetic materials due to the challenges in fabricating vascularized structures. Is it possible to establish such material design principles to achieve predictive, optimized functions?

In our laboratory, we emulate optimum natural systems following a general rule which is developed by revisiting Murray’s law that evolved in natural hierarchical systems and enable the functionality and the porosity at each length scale of materials to be predictably controlled as in plant stems, leaf veins and vascular and respiratory systems. Such bio-inspired Murray material mimics could enable highly enhanced mass exchange and transfer in liquid-solid, gas-solid and electrochemical reactions and could exhibit enhanced performance in photocatalysis, catalysis and energy storage.

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