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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Biomolecular Materials and Processes



Inspired by Biology: From Molecules to Materials to Machines

Released June 2008

Scientists have long desired to create synthetic systems that function with the precision and efficiency of biological systems. Using new techniques, researchers are now uncovering principles that could allow the creation of synthetic materials that can perform tasks as precise as biological systems. To assess the current work and future promise of the biology-materials science intersection, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation asked the NRC to identify the most compelling questions and opportunities at this interface, suggest strategies to address them, and consider connections with national priorities such as healthcare and economic growth. This book presents a discussion of principles governing biomaterial design, a description of advanced materials for selected functions such as energy and national security, an assessment of biomolecular materials research tools, and an examination of infrastructure and resources for bridging biological and materials science.

Committee Members and NRC Staff

Arup K. Chakraborty, Chair, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joanna Aizenberg, Bell Labs/Lucent Technologies
Annelise E. Barron, Northwestern University
Kenneth A. Dill, University of California at San Francisco
Sharon C. Glotzer, University of Michigan
Yale E. Goldman, University of Pennsylvania
Elias Greenbaum, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
W. John Kao, University of Wisconsin-Madison
David Needham, Duke University
V. Adrian Parsegian, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Alan Rudolph, Adlyfe Inc.
Cyrus Safinya, University of California Santa Barbara
Charles F. Stevens, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
David A. Weitz, Harvard University

NRC Staff

 Donald C. Shapero, Director, BPA
Fran Sharples, Director, BLS
Adam Fagen, Program Officer, BLS
Natalia Melcer, Program Officer, BPA
Phil Long, Senior Program Assistant, BPA


The committee is pleased to acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.