We are pleased to share that Professor Cho Nam-Joon has been awarded the MOE Academic Research Funding (AcRF) Tier 3 grant for the research programme titled “From Tough Pollen to Soft Matter”. Prof Cho leads a multidisciplinary team at NTU comprised of Co-PIs from School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE), School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CCEB), School of Biological Sciences (SBS), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) and Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS).
Inspired by the new terminology "Cross Economy beyond Sustainability" coined by Prof Cho, the goal of the research programme is to decode the materials science behind the unique multifunctionality of pollen grains and transform them into different material building blocks. These building blocks can be used for drug delivery, tissue engineering, soft robotics, biosensors, flexible electronics, and environmental remediation. Pollen grains are tough and soft materials that feature a hybrid design of disparate building blocks. This design includes the stiff, chemically resistant, and water-impermeable sporopollenin, and the softer, water-permeable, and environmentally responsive cellulose intine. The project will systematically map the fundamental relations between the processes, structures, and properties of pollen, and develop a comprehensive understanding of the structure-dynamics-function relations characterizing pollen. The research program is interdisciplinary and involves experts in materials science, biology, biophysics, and engineering. It will also provide cross-disciplinary training for the next generation of scientists. The ultimate goal is to create a knowledge-driven cross economy beyond sustainability and society in Singapore.