Brian Weden, US (West Coast)
Brian's introduction to engineering started in high school at Don Bosco Technical Institute where he majored in Material Science. There he became proficient with a large variety of lab equipment and analytical techniques ranging from tensile testing, and ultrasonics, to metallography and Scanning Electron Microscopy. After graduating high school he enrolled in the Materials Science and Engineering Programme at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). In his second year at UCR he joined the Biomimetics and Nanostructural Characterisation Laboratoty where he began his work on researching a very unique biomineral found in the teeth of a sea mollusk. Brian's main focus was fracture and structural analysis, which lead to a complete micro-nanostructural characterisation of the fully mineralised teeth. In 2010 he was awarded a trip to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual meeting after taking a top spot in the University of Cali Riverside (UCR) Biomimetic, Bioinspired, and Biomediated Research Conference. Later that year he was also awarded the UCR Undergraduate Research Grant. Brian is currently a fourth year student at UCR and will be co-authored on a biomineralisation paper that is set to be published later this year. He will be graduating with a BS in 2013 and intends to apply to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering.
High performance impact-tolerant and abrasion-resistant materials: lessons from nature
Chitons are marine mollusks found worldwide in the intertidal or subtidal zones of cold water as well as in tropical waters. These organisms have evolved an amazing feeding structure called a Radula. The Radula is a ribbon-like structure that consists of abrasion resistant teeth anchored to a flexible stylus that the organism uses to abrade rocky substrates to reach endolithic and epilithic algae. In this work, we investigate the structure and mineralization process in Cryptochiton stelleri, the largest of the chitons. Using various microscopy and spectroscopy techniques as well as synchroton analyses, we have uncovered critical structure-function relationships in the mineralized teeth as well as insights into the mineralization processes in these unique structures. Investigation of the mechanical properties of the fully mineralized teeth have revealed that the combination of ultrahard minerals and templating organics, architected in a unique microstructure, led to a damage tolerant composite that is of the hardest known biominerals known to nature.