• Zhao Qin, Brett Compton, Jennifer A. Lewis and Markus J. Buehler (2015), Structural optimization of     microfabricated synthetic spider webs for high strength, Nature Communications, in press.
  • Zhao Qin, and Markus J. Buehler (2013), Webs measure upNature Materials, Vol 12 (3), pp. 185-187.
  • Zhao Qin, and Markus J. Buehler (2013), Impact tolerance in mussel thread networks by heterogeneous material distributionNature Communications, Vol 4, paper #: 2187
  • ​​Zhao Qin, and Markus J. Buehler (2014), Molecular mechanics of mussel adhesion proteins, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, Vol 62, pp. 19-30.
  • Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler (2012). Molecular mechanics of dihydroxyphenylalanine at a silica interface. Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 101 (8), paper #: 083702


engineered materials such as composites composed of graphene and other polymers. By using multiscale computational modeling I am able to design multifunctional materials starting from the molecular level. To generalize the findings, by utilizing the integrated combination of experimental characterization, mathematical modeling, massive computational calculation and advanced additive manufacturing, I illustrate the concept to realize materials of functions by design.


My general research interest lies in theoretical and computational modeling of multi time scale and length scale mechanical behavior (e.g., dislocation, fracture, reaction and fatigue) of materials and architectures. I use advanced massive computational tools, combining with coarse-grained and continuum mechanics methods to develop methods to quantitatively predict mechanical behaviors. By combining modeling work with experiments and advanced manufacturing tools, I can validate the models and achieve useful scaling laws. The ultimate goal of my research is to transfer the knowledge learnt from natural materials with advanced functions to engineering materials by rational designing their structure and chemistry, reaching the advanced functions as seen in their natural counterparts.  

Bio-inspired Material Designs.

Biomaterial covers a range of materials that are expressed by genetic information and play functional roles for the biological system such as DNA origami, cytoskeleton network, bone, silk and wood. These materials have fascinating mechanical and biological functions built up from simple basic material building blocks. Such ability to synergistically integrate multiple advantages in materials goes far beyond our current understanding of using synthesizing engineered materials. Here my study is focusing on trying to gain mechanical insights of natural materials including spider web, cocoon, mussel thread or cytoskeleton network, and apply the knowledge to 

Mechanics in Biological Materials .

Low-dimensional nanomaterials are attractive to assemble and form functional materials for various applications. The ability to control the morphology of nanomaterials is critical for manufacturing as well as for utilizing them as 

Nanomechanics and Fractal Nanomaterials .

Intermediate filaments are one of the three major components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells. It was discovered during the recent decades that intermediate filament proteins play key roles to reinforce cells subjected to large-deformation as well as participate in signal transduction. For this research I investigate the material function of intermediate filaments under various extreme mechanical conditions as well as disease states. I start with a full atomistic model and study its response to mechanical stresses. Learning from the mechanical response obtained from atomistic simulations, I build mesoscopic models following the finer-trains-coarser principles. By using this multiple-scale model, I present a detailed analysis of the mechanical properties and associated deformation mechanisms of intermediate filament network. Mechanisms including a transition from alpha-helices to beta-sheets results in a characteristic nonlinear  force-extension curve, which leads to a delocalization of mechanical energy and prevents catastrophic fracture. 

​​​​Zhao Qin, PhD

functional materials or devices. Here, I propose to use low-dimensional carbon materials as the basic building blocks, by mimicking the biological system—including structure, process and function—to exploit the possibility of utilizing them for large scale engineering applications. My study demonstrate that multiscale computational modeling provides a very efficient tool to understand how mechanical loading, chemical composition and chemical environment can affect the material’s mechanical functions. I can thereby derive scaling laws according to computational simulations and applied the knowledge to large scale applications.