Computational Mechanics of Soft Materials Lab (CMSML)
In my group, we develop advanced computational models and physics-based simulation techniques for i) enhancing our understanding of dynamic shape, topology, and functional changes in soft materials in nature, ii) elucidating the complete interplay between multi-physics materials and their physical/(bio)chemical stimuli, and iii) capturing lower-dimensional energetics linked to surfaces, interfaces, and fibers across multiple time and length scales for soft multifunctional materials. We also conduct table-top experiments for inspiration, validation, and fun!
Understanding the dynamic morphing and functional changes in soft materialsTo date, we are still trying to mimic nature's ability to create materials that are functional, shape-shifting, and stimuli-responsive to their environments. In particular, slight variation in an external stimulus can lead to large changes on the overall behavior in nature. Recently, engineered materials have been able to harness material and structural instabilities. However, these instabilities are associated with singularities in mathematical context, which poses challenges to overcome with existing standard numerical tools. Our group develops advanced solution techniques, constitutive models, and new computational tools to capture highly nonlinear material and geometrical instabilities observed at soft materials. Furthermore, we utilize the developed tools to guide emerging engineering applications and to understand morphogenesis in nature.
Leveraging multi-physics response in hydrogels to discover new deformation modes for soft and functional devicesHydrogels are polymeric networks swollen due to the diffusion of water. Because of their unique properties such as softness, toughness, bio-compatibility, and stimuli responsiveness to light, humidity, temperature, chemicals, and electrical and magnetic fields, their applications range from environmental use to robotics. From a mechanics perspective, modeling different hydrogel types pose charming but challenging problems that require to account for strongly coupled physics, stability analysis at large strains, hard-soft interface and contact mechanics, and fracture mechanics of polymers. Our group adopts a theoretical and computational approach to construct high fidelity multi-physics models with relevant couplings. We aim to extend the knowledge in multi-physics modeling of responsive hydrogels and to discover new bifurcation modes that can be harnessed to create functional materials and devices through chemical, electrical, and magnetic field variations.
Developing and validating new high-fidelity computational methods to understand boundary energetics in soft and stimuli-responsive materialsLower dimensional energetics play an important role in soft gels. For example, the mechanical and chemical properties of the bulk hydrogel can differ from its boundary. This introduces a multi-scale response through lower dimensional energetics such as surfaces, interfaces, and fibers. Inspired by these phenomena, we intend to understand the contributions of boundary energetics and their impact on the deformation of multi-field coupled hydrogels using theory, simulations, and experiments. In particular, we develop computational models and frameworks to capture the nonlinear mechanics of gradient-induced deformations at solid-solid and liquid-solid interfaces. Adopting these developed tools, we design architectured materials and computational studies to guide hydrogel-based applications in a wide range of scales.
Mechanics, Uncertainty, and Simulation in Engineering @UT AustinThe MUSE group (Mechanics, Uncertainty, and Simulation in Engineering) is a team of students and faculty in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Our areas of expertise cover broad as well as focused topics in mechanics and structural engineering. These include earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, wind engineering, reliability, and risk assessment of components and systems, uncertainty quantification, computational mechanics, wave propagation, soil-structure interaction, acoustics, inverse problems and imaging, coupled physics problems, metamaterials, computational materials, soft, and multi-functional materials.