College of Engineering

Special BMEBT Seminar by Matt Neal, Materials Scientist

Date(s): 4/19/2013 2:00 PM - 4/19/20133:00 PM
Location: Textiles Conference Room - 101E
Contact: Dr. Christopher Brigham 508-999-9149


As first reported in 1927, some bacteria can, under certain conditions, assemble a polymer in vitro as a means of storing energy for later use. Through careful cultivation and, in our case, genetic engineering, these polymers can be harvested in bulk as an alternative to petroleum based polymers. The polymers are the polyesters known as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Exploitation of this resource has been hampered by some undesirable mechanical and thermal properties in the simpler versions of these polymers. My colleague, Prof. Chris Brigham, has genetically engineered R. eutropha so that they produce a range of copolymers with enhanced material performance. I will describe these copolymers, discuss our work characterizing thermal and mechanical properties, and detail some of the issues to be resolved as we move forward.

Matt Neal is a materials scientist at Olin College in Needham, MA. His primary role at Olin is to provide material and intellectual support to students engaged in project based learning of materials science. His current research interest is the materials science of bio-derived polymers. Since receiving his S.M. in Electronic Materials from MIT in the late 80’s and prior to coming to Olin in 2006, Matt has done materials research, development, and manufacturing in such areas as superconducting thin films, superconducting magnets, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices, thin film recording heads. He has been a member of three start-up ventures, a scientist at a national laboratory, and a process engineer in a high volume manufacturing facility.

Contact Info: