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Krystyn J. Van Vliet, Ph.D.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Thomas Lord Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Room 8-237
617-253-3315 (phone)
617-252-1175 (fax)


ScB, Materials Engineering, Brown University, 1998
PhD, Materials Engineering, MIT, 2002

Research Summary

By probing materials at their most basic structural and functional length scales, Dr. Van Vliet's group investigates mechanically coupled transitions in material behavior and structure. The living cell is a particularly interesting example of a material system which processes mechanical stimuli via chemical and structural modifications. They are understanding this phenomenon of mechanotransduction by scanning individual, living cells with chemically functionalized mechanical probes, creating real-time images which contain topographical, mechanical, chemical, and kinetic data at sub-nanometer resolution. This approach can be used to study other mechanically induced phenomena such as defect nucleation in crystals, superelasticity in metallic alloys, piezoelectricity in ceramic compounds, and conformational binding in biological substrates.

Selected Publications

  • "Enhanced Stiffness of Amorphous Polymer Surfaces under Confinement of Localized Contact Loads," Advanced Materials, 19: 25402546 (2007) (with others).
  • "Many-Body Potential for Point Defect Clusters in Fe-C Alloys," Physical Review Letters, 98: 215501 (2007) (with others).
  • "Equilibration of Experimentally Determined Protein Structures for Molecular Dynamics Simulation," Physical Review E, 74: 061901 (2006) (with E. Walton).
  • "Probing Drug-Cell Interactions," Nano Today, 1: 1825 (2006) (with P. Hinterdorfer).
  • "Chemomechanical Mapping of Ligand-Receptor Binding Kinetics on Cells," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104: 96099614 (2007) (with others).

Last Updated: April 16, 2008