Mechanics and Materials

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The mechanics of solids and structures affects our everyday life in a multitude of ways. Why are some materials stiff and strong, while others are soft or fail easily? The performance of materials as we perceive it with the naked eye is only the macroscopic manifestation of a myriad of complex mechanisms that occur on various length and time scales, all the way down to the atomic scale and the fundamental particles. For many technological applications we need extraordinary materials that satisfy exceptional demands. But before we can develop and create such new materials, we must thoroughly understand their mechanics and physics across scales in order to link macroscopic properties to small-scale mechanisms. In our group, we combine methods of theoretical, computational and experimental solid mechanics with the ultimate goal to accurately describe, to thoroughly understand, and to reliably predict the performance of materials, and - ultimately - to create novel, engineered materials (or metamaterials) with exceptional properties. Particular emphasis is on instabilities which are commonly avoided in classical engineering design principles. By contrast, we aim to control and take advantage of instabilities in an innovative fashion, resulting in materials and structures with unusual or extreme mechanical properties: materials that are extremely stiff and/or extremely light, that change their properties by the push of a button, or that intelligently guide waves, just to name a few examples.

To this end, research in our group covers a wide range. We develop new modeling techniques that bridge across scales in solids. A major focus is on coupling atomistic techniques to continuum mechanics in order to export atomistic accuracy to significantly larger scales of technological interest. We develop and apply theoretical and computational models across multiple scales and materials systems (including metals, ceramics, composites, and novel metamaterials such as small-scale truss networks and nonlinear dynamic structures). In our experimental labs, we fabricate and test new materials such as active composites whose thermo-electro-mechanically-coupled performance we analyze (we are particularly interested in controlling their stiffness and damping by inducing small-scale instabilities). Through the combination of theory and experiments (and through various international collaborations), we are in place to create new models, validate those by experiments, and then use those models to guide further material development.

To learn more about our research and individual projects, visit our website:

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