To truly understand how the properties of materials develop, it is necessary to investigate the hierarchy of structures within the material. Tissues of the human body, for instance, consists of a matrix of fibrous biopolymers (Fig. 1) with embedded cells, which collectively form the organs, vascular systems and the structural elements that form the human body. Similarly, many emerging materials such as nanocellulose paper (Fig. 2), comprise nanoparticles that form a hierarchical structure, sometimes within a polymer matrix. Ongoing research concern how fibrous nanostructures affects the elasticity of materials.
The forming process of hierarchical materials is critical to the resulting macroscopic material properties. Detailed control of the forming process and knowledge about the optimal microstructures is necessary to purposefully enhance the material properties. One of my ambitions is to enhance the properties of biobased, renewable materials (Fig. 3) to make them competitive with petroleum-based products.