Centennial Seminar Series

Dr. Scott R. White

Donald Biggar Willet Professor of Engineering
Department of Aerospace Engineering &
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Self-Healing Materials: From Aerospace to Biomedicine

Inspired by living systems, self-healing polymers and composites are designed to autonomically repair damage whenever and wherever it occurs, thus providing a means to significantly extend the service life and reliability of structural materials.  Since the inception of the field in 2001, there have been three conceptual approaches pursued including capsule-based, vascular, and intrinsic systems.  The particular approach used is dictated by a number of factors including the type of damage to be healed, the damage volume, material architecture, etc. I will introduce the fundamental concepts behind self-healing materials and summarize their development over the past 15 years from applications in the aerospace market to more recent studies in biomedicine.


Scott R. White is the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois.  In 2000, he joined the faculty of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology where he leads the Autonomous Materials Systems (AMS) Group bringing together students and faculty from a broad cross-section of scientific and engineering disciplines. His group focuses on innovative materials that embody the principles of autonomy to perform both self-generating and self-regulating functions.  His work encompasses the fields of processing, composite materials, bio-inspired materials, multifunctional materials, health monitoring, self-healing, and energy storage.

He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1985.  He went on to receive his Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1990 before joining the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. Professor White is an internationally recognized researcher whose pioneering efforts in self-healing and multifunctional materials systems have been recognized by many organizations including the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA and Popular Science as one of the Top Scientific Innovations in 2001. Scientific American also recognized his work in microvascular systems with the SciAm 50 prize in 2007.  His recent work on mechanochemical polymers was cited by Popular Science as one of the Top Ten Concepts to Know for 2011.  He is a Fellow of the American Society for Composites and the Society of Engineering Science, and he received the Humboldt Research Award in 2013.  Professor White holds 39 patents in the materials field and is a founding partner in two start-up companies seeking to transition university technologies to industry.