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Bionspired materials science : from nature's nanodesigns to next-generation...

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Kim E Beazley Lecture Theatre

90 South Street

Murdoch, Western Australia 6150

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Free Public lecture as part of the Future Earth Series by Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk, senior lecturer in Maths and Statistics at Murdoch University.

Structure in Nature is a Strategy for Design” was a powerful book of the 1970s, in which architect Peter Pearce advocated the use of geometric designs inspired by nature as motifs for design and architecture. This book continues to be an excellent read. In his lecture, Dr schröder-Turk will argue that this idea remains valid today – not only for the design of ‘macroscopic’ architectural designs but in particular also for the ‘microscopic’ design of nanostructure materials. Such materials are characterised by patterns and geometries typically 1000 or more times smaller than the width of a human hair – beautiful and intricate three-dimensional patterns with a miraculous origin and with some amazing properties.

The green butterfly is an example of nature’s nanoengineering. The green reflections arise despite the underlying material not containing any pigments. The secret is an intricate, beautifully complex three-dimensional maze – called the Gyroid – within the wing-scales, at a tiny size that is comparable to the wavelength of light. This geometric pattern, rather than a chemical pigment, cause the light to diffract in a way that green light is reflected. Another animal, an ugly sea worm ironically termed aphroditae, uses a similar effect to produce colorful reflections on some spikes on its body. Rather than a three-dimensional geometry, it uses a rather simple pattern, namely long circular hollow tubes, arranged into a honeycomb-like structure. The biological purpose of this structure remains elusive, but it has set the evolutionary precedence for a technology none of us wants to do without: the fibre-optics cables that power (or not) the National Broadband Network.

Biography: Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk is a senior lecturer at the School of Engineering and Information Technology at Murdoch University in Perth. He holds a PhD awarded by the Australian National University, for his research thesis “Skeletons in the Labyrinths” about geometric aspects of pattern formation in self-organised systems. He has held teaching or research positions at the Australian National University and the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. In 2014, he was awarded the Emmy-Noether Award. He is the author of more than 70 scientific articles and has been the organiser of numerous international scientific conferences, including “Shape Up: Exercises in Materials Geometry and Topology” in Berlin in 2015 and of the Australian Academy of Sciences 2016 Boden conference “Animal, Vegetal, Mineral” in Yallingup. He is the current chair of the Western Australian Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics. He refers to his area of research as “Materials Geometry”, that is, the materials science of nano- or microstructured materials and tissues, addressed through the goggles of advanced geometric methods.

Email and contact details:

Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk, Email: g.schroeder-turk@murdoch.edu.au





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Kim E Beazley Lecture Theatre

90 South Street

Murdoch, Western Australia 6150

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