Hierarchical vascular networks facilitate heat and mass transport for sustenance, growth, and repair in plants and animals. Embedding interconnected microchannels in synthetic materials allows fabrication of environmentally-adaptive structures with multifunctional capabilities.

Nutrient transport in the lemon leaf continues after damage to the central vein (circular hole) due to the presence of a redundant network of vessels.

Tandem Polymerization and Vascularization

An embedded sacrificial template resembling veins of a leaf depolymerizes in tandem with the exothermic frontal polymerization of the surrounding matrix for rapid fabrication of a thermoset with interconnected microchannels. The sacrificial material is processed into the desired architecture before embedding into the matrix and inverse replica of the template is revealed after curing of the host structure.

Multifunctional Vascular Structures

Maintain Thermal Homeostasis

Coolants are flown through the embedded vasculature to cool down fiber-reinforced composites.

Improve Crashworthiness

A sequence of hollow channels aids energy absorption of a composite by altering crush behavior.

Restore Large-Scale Damage

Two chemically reactive fluids contained in separate microchannels allow the regeneration of lost material through mixing and curing in a 7.5-mm-diameter hole.