. . . a broadly adaptable class of material, typically light weight and low cost, that is ubiquitous in every day life. Common examples range from car tires to safety glasses to cell phone cases. Polymers are intriguing from a material mechanics viewpoint because of the wide spread of pertinent time and size scales that result naturally from their microstructural inhomogeneity.
. . . using mechanics to drive chemistry. This phenomena is rampant in biological systems where mechanical motions and forces are transduced to chemical signals. Over the last decade mechanochemistry has been increasingly developed in synthetic materials. We work on developing the framework to predict the chemical response these synthetic mechano-responsive polymers will have to mechanical loading.
. . . creating new polymers and polymer composites. We use a combined experimental and theoretical approach to developing microstructurally-based models. These models can be used to predict the behavior of existing materials and guide the design of new materials.
. . . where math meets thermodynamics. Continuum mechanics is an essential tool that allows us to describe our material theories in a computationally tenable fashion. We work with commercial finite element packages to implement our theories and validate them with respect to experiments.