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Unit information: Nature's Materials - Biomimetics, Biomaterials and Sustainability in 2015/16

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Unit name Nature's Materials - Biomimetics, Biomaterials and Sustainability
Unit code AENGM5124
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Trask
Open unit status Not open

Materials and structures (or equivalent)



School/department Department of Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

This is compulsory 10 cp unit which forms part of the 180 cp MRes in Advanced Composites. This module will introduce a wide range of solutions and principles found in nature, e.g. biological ceramic, polymer, elastomeric and cellular materials, nature's approach to building with fibres, attachment methods in nature, structural adaptivity and functional biological materials, bio-materials and their compatibility with the human body, and will raise awareness of the increasingly important issue of sustainability for composites materials. The course will be delivered from a materials science perspective with particular emphasis on the application of these methodologies to advanced fibre reinforced polymer composites. The specialist knowledge and understanding gained through this course will provide the students with a good foundation for further research in this field.

The aim of this unit is to:

1. To provide the students with an overview of the structure-function relationship of natural materials as a model for the development of new types of high-performance engineering materials.

2. Introduce a range of composites materials that can be found or are inspired by nature, or that make use of naturally occurring components to enhance their functionality.

3. To raise the students awareness of issues concerning sustainability and the environmental impact of composites materials.

4. Introduce, define and classify biomaterials in a general context and the issues related to biocompatibility and ethics for medical applications.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The students will be able to:

1. Provide a clear overview of the diverse range of nature's materials, their complex hierarchical structure and describe their unique engineering properties.

2. Critically compare engineering and nature's solution to the structural design of composites materials through self-direction and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

3. Understand some of the issues and methodologies involved in the design of composites based biomaterials.

The learning outcomes align to the UK-SPEC A1, A2 and B1.

Teaching Information


Assessment Information

Written Assignment

Specialist Topic Presentation

Reading and References

Biological materials:

  • Structure and mechanical properties, Marc Andre Meyérs, Po-Yu Chen, Albert Yu-Min Lin, and Yasuaki Seki, Progress in Materials Science 53 (2008) 1206
  • Cellulose and collagen: from fibres to tissues, Peter Fratzl, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science 8 (2003) 3239

Cellular materials:

  • Biomechanics of cellular solids, Lorna J. Gibson, Journal of Biomechanics 38 (2005) 377399
  • Micromechanical modelling of mechanical behaviour and strength of wood: State-of-the-art review, Leon Mishnaevsky Jr., Hai Qing, Computational Materials Science 44 (2008) 363370