Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemical & Biochemical Engineering

First Advisor

Mark P. Stoykovich

Second Advisor

Stephanie J. Bryant

Third Advisor

Franck J. Vernerey


Materials found in nature present, in some cases, unique properties from their constituents that are of great interest in engineered materials for applications ranging from structural materials for the construction of bridges, canals and buildings to the fabrication of new lightweight composites for airplane and automotive bodies, to protective thin film coatings, amongst other fields. Research in the growing field of biomimetic materials indicates that the micro-architectures present in natural materials are critical to their macroscopic mechanical properties. A better understanding of the effect that structure and hierarchy across scales have on the material properties will enable engineered materials with enhanced properties. At the moment, very few theoretical models predict mechanical properties of simple materials based on their microstructures. Moreover these models are based on observations from complex biological systems.

One way to overcome this challenge is through the use of microfabrication techniques to design and fabricate simple materials, more appropriate for the study of hierarchical organizations and microstructured materials. Arrays of structures with controlled geometry and dimension can be designed and fabricated at different length scales, ranging from a few hundred nanometers to centimeters, in order to mimic similar systems found in nature. In this thesis, materials have been fabricated in order to gain fundamental insight into the complex hierarchical materials found in nature and to engineer novel materials with enhanced mechanical properties. The materials fabricated here were mechanically characterized and compared to simple mechanics models to describe their behavior with the goal of applying the knowledge acquired to the design and synthesis of future engineered materials with novel properties.