Faculty Directory
Sinan Keten

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech A133
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-5282Email Sinan Keten


Keten Research Group Website


Mechanical Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Graduate Program

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PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

MEng, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

BS, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey

Research Interests

The long-term research goal of my group is to gain fundamental insight into the mechanics and dynamics of biological and bioinspired systems at multiple-length scales, and reflect knowledge gained from these studies to the development of bioinspired design principles. Our investigations begin typically at the nano-scale, where key chemical information is encoded in the basic building blocks and interfaces of materials, giving rise to emergent features observable at the macro-scale. The main focus of our work is establishing "materials-by-design" approaches to understanding the mechanics of polymers, biomolecules and nanomaterials, as well as their interfaces, to achieve new capabilities in engineering systems. We build and utilize a broad set of tools based on theoretical mechanics and computational materials science, most notably atomistically informed coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to tackle challenges pertaining to modeling phenomena spanning multiple length and time scales. One of our core interests is to create physics-based approaches to quantitatively and predictively simulate materials behavior at multiple scales. The majority of our work focuses on understanding how size and geometric effects influence the mechanics of confined solids and fluids at the nano-scale. Discovery of size-dependent phenomena that may facilitate advancements in the design of functional nanostructures, structural/infrastructural materials, and nanotechnology products is central to our long-term research objective. The fundamental scientific advances in materials-by-design and bioinspiration are aimed at tackling two major interdisciplinary materials challenges relevant to civil and environmental engineering: 1) making materials stronger, lighter, tougher and cheaper by nanostructuring, 2) addressing clean water and carbon capture needs through novel membranes.

Significant Recognition

  • Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award
  • Office of Naval Director of Research Early Career Award
  • ASME Applied Mechanics Division Haythornthwaite Research Initiation Grant
  • Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, 2009
  • MIT Presidential Graduate Fellowship, 2006-2007
  • MIT Emerson Scholarship, 2007-2009
  • MIT Philip Loew Memorial Award, 2008

Significant Professional Service

  • Member of the Editorial Board of ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
  • Member of ASCE EMI Biomechanics Committee, ASME Mechanics in Biology and Medicine Committee
  • Member of ASCE, ASME, SES, MRS
  • Member of the editorial board for BioNanoScience Journal

Selected Publications

    1. L. Ruiz, Y. Wu, S. Keten, “ Tailoring water structure and transport in nanotubes with tunable interiors”, Nanoscale, 2014, doi:10.1039/C4NR05407E.
    2. D. Hsu, Wenjie Xia, S. Arturo, and S. Keten, "A systematic method for thermomechanically consistent coarse-graining: A universal model for methacrylate-based polymers", Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 2014, 10 (6), pp 2514–2527.
    3. L. Ruiz, S. Keten "Thermodynamics vs. Kinetics Dichotomy in the Linear Self-Assembly of Mixed Nanoblocks", Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 2014, 5 (11), pp 2021–2026.
    4. W. Xia, D. Hsu, S. Keten, "Dependence of Polymer Thin Film Adhesion Energy on Cohesive Interactions between Chains", Macromolecules, 2014, 47 (15), pp 5286–5294
    5. B. Sinko, S. Mishra, L. Ruiz, N. Brandis, S. Keten, "The dimensions of biological cellulose nanocrystals maximize fracture strength”, ACS Macro Letters, 2014, 3, pp 64–69.
    6. E. Hamed, T. Xu, S. Keten, "Poly(ethylene glycol) conjugation stabilizes the secondary structure of alpha-helices by reducing peptide solvent accessible surface area”, Biomacromolecules, 2013, 14 (11), pp 4053–4060.
    7. S. Keten, Z. Xu, B. Ihle, M. J. Buehler, “Nanoconfinement controls stiffness, strength and mechanical toughness of β-sheet crystals in silk”, Nature Materials, 2010, 9, p. 359-367. 
    8. S. Keten, M. J. Buehler, “Nanostructure and molecular mechanics of dragline spider silk protein assemblies”, Journal of the Royal Society – Interface, 2010, 7(53), p 1709-1721.
    9. M. J. Buehler, S. Keten, “Colloquium: Failure of molecules, bones, and the Earth itself”, Reviews of Modern Physics, 2010, 82(2): p. 1459-1487. Highlighted by M. Buchanan, “Learning from Failure”, Nature Physics, 2009, 5(705).
    10. S. Keten and M.J. Buehler, “Geometric confinement governs the rupture strength of H-bond assemblies at a critical length scale”. Nano Letters, 2008, 8(2): p. 743-748.

In the Classroom

Sinan Keten's teaching interests include mechanics of materials, statics and dynamics classes at the undergraduate level, as well as atomistic modeling and simulation of materials. He is also interested in the development of online simulation tools that provide for a hands-on, practical learning environment for students.