Humboldt Research Award Winner Nicola Pugno Visits CAU

Referent vor Publikum
© Julia Siekmann, Uni KielHumboldt-Forschungspreisträger Nicola Pugno von der University of Trento, internationaler Mechanik-Experte für bioinspirierte Nanomaterialien, hält einen Vortrag zu Beginn seines mehrmonatigen Forschungsaufenthalts an der CAU.

Nicola Pugno from the University of Trento, materials scientist and an international expert on the mechanics of bio-inspired nanomaterials, receives one of the prestigious Humboldt Research Awards from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He was nominated by Rainer Adelung, Professor of Functional Nanomaterials, of CAU. The award endowed with 60,000 euros, is linked to a research stay at the CAU to further intensify the researchers’ collaboration. At the lecture and networking evening "KiNSIS meets Humboldt" on 28 March 2023, which KiNSIS hosted together with the Schleswig-Holstein regional group of the German Society of Humboldtians, Pugno gave a first lecture on his research and had a conversation with (young) scientists from various disciplines.

In his opening message, Rainer Adelung warmly welcomed Nicola Pugno to Kiel and drew a connection between Alexander von Humboldt's multidisciplinary research activities, the interdisciplinary priority research area KiNSIS and Pugno, who studied mechanical engineering, theoretical physics, mechanics and biology. Currently, Nicola Pugno is Professor of Solid State and Structural Mechanics at the University of Trento, Italy, where he is Director of the Laboratory for Bioinspired, Bionic, Nano, Meta Materials & Mechanics, as well as Professor of Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.

“Dr. Pugno is widely recognized as a leading scientist on mechanics of materials and for his pioneering works in carbon nanotubes, graphene, bio-inspired materials”, Adelung highlighted in his laudation for Pugno's nomination. His outstanding publication record with over 200 refereed papers in the last 5 years in very highly esteemed journals, including Science, Nature Communications and Materials Today and his collaborative natural attitude makes him “the most prestigious and most relevant researches in the fields of bionics, nanomechanics and bio-inspired materials”, says Adelung. Pugno's most important awards include the A. A. Griffith Medal for notable contributions to materials science.

Dr. Pugno studied and developed bio-inspired, hierarchical super nanomaterials to and from which he could transfer outstanding and unique material properties such as gecko-inspired super adhesive surfaces, lotus leaf-inspired super-hydrophobicity and self-cleaning surfaces, limpet teeth-inspired super-strong materials, spider silk-inspired super-tough materials and bone-inspired self-healing materials. He also introduced the new concept of Bionicomposites, demonstrating that feeding spiders with graphene or nanotubes results in their spinning of a bionic silk, incorporating the nanomaterials, with superior structural characteristics.

Together with Adelung’s research group Pugno investigated the nanomechanics of aerographite - ultra-lightweight carbon-based three-dimensional networks materials recently discovered by Adelung. With simulation and atomic force microscopy (AFM) experiments he was able to predict the bulk mechanical behavior of networks from individual building blocks and made an outstanding contribution for a better understanding of the mechanical response of this nanomaterial networks ideal for advanced multifunctional applications.

At the "KiNSIS Meets Humboldt" evening in the Audimax Lecture building of the CAU, Pugno not only gave an overview of his own research, starting from Leonardo Da Vinci's work on the basic principles of mechanics. In his lecture called "The commemoration of Leonardo da Vinci - The mechanics of solids and structures" he also showed that Da Vinci laid central foundations for modern engineering and also paved the way for technical studies inspired by nature.

About the Humboldt Research Award:
Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants Humboldt Research Awards to leading internationally leading researchers of all disciplines in recognition of their academic record to date. Nominations for a Humboldt Research Award may be initiated by established scientists at research institutions in Germany. Award winners are also invited to conduct a research project of their choice at a research institution in Germany in cooperation with specialist colleagues there. The award enables a total stay of between six months and a full year, which can be split into multiple stays. More information