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Long-Lasting Ancient Materials for a Sustainable Future
Abstract: We designate as paleo- or antiquity-inspired systems, systems inspired by ancient materials that naturally bear, or can be synthesized with extraordinary, long-term (mechanical, structural, or chemical) resilience. Understanding their intrinsic properties may therefore point toward ways of synthesizing innovative, new materials, or more sustainable ways of manufacturing existing ones. Production of concrete, the most widely used building material in the modern world, is associated with significant greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, modern concrete is highly prone to degradation in as little as a century. Consequences of these processes motivate the exploration of more durable solutions. Ancient Roman concrete has proven durable over millennia, a characteristic associated with an intrinsic self-healing mechanism. Heterogeneous at almost all length scales and exhibiting multiple crystalline and amorphous phases, ancient and modern cements are difficult to characterize. The new high throughput, multiscale characterization approaches create the foundation for a general framework to study antiquity-inspired materials. This talk weaves together history, ancient materials technologies, and modern science and engineering, to describe how we can harness the remarkable properties of the ancient Roman concrete in designing sustainable modern solutions.
Bio: Admir Masic is the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Professor in the Department of CEE, Department of MSE Faculty Fellow in Archaeological Materials, and Faculty Director of the MIT Refugee Action Hub (MIT ReACT) at MIT. His lab develops high performance multiscale characterization methodologies to investigate complex hierarchically organized biological and archeological materials. The aim is to understand relationships between chemistry, structure, and function in high performance biological, archeological, and construction materials at molecular, nano-, and microscales in order to inform the design of sustainable materials in the areas of construction, energy, and the environment.
Seminars are held on select Wednesdays from 12:00 noon-1pm, Eastern/New York time.