Current projects

Auto-kirigami with 2D materials

Atomically thin materials exhibit striking and unique mechanical behavior. One such case is the formation of spontaneously formed folds. Using scanning probe microscopy and other advanced characterization and modeling tools, we aim to better understand how these self-assembling structures form and explore their applications in devices.

Researchers: Li Yuan, Dr. Cangyu Qu, Jacob Goell

Collaborators: Prof. A. T. Charlie Johnson (UPenn), Prof. Ashlie Martini (UC Merced), Prof. Graham Cross (Trinity College Dublin), Prof. Gareth Tribello (Queen’s Univ Belfast)

Sponsors: National Science Foundation, Engineering Directorate, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, Mechanics of Materials and Structures Program

Rheology and Tribology of Food and Beverages

Oral tribology is a relatively nascent field and this project will collaborate with a group doing human subject research such that direct comparisons can be made between tribological response and subjective experiences. Experimental methods development to optimize the correlation between tribological data and human subject responses will be a focus of the project.

Researchers: Dr. Brandon McClimon, Sumit Kumar, Marina Penna Goncalves

Collaborators: Prof. Paulo Arratia

Sponsors: Monell Chemical Senses Center

Synthetic mucins with tunable structures and programmable interfacial behavior

Despite its prevalence in the natural world, very little is understood about how mucus changes properties to behave, in one case, as an adhesive and, in another, as a lubricant. If these properties can be understood and reproduced in a synthetic material, it could have applications ranging from eye drops to coatings for medical implants. This project supports fundamental research to understand the lubricity and adhesion of synthetic mucin polymers designed to mimic natural mucins.

Researchers: Dr. Brandon McClimon, Sumit Kumar

Collaborators: Prof. Prashant Purohit (UPenn), Prof. Adam Braunschweig (ARSC, CUNY)

Sponsors: National Science Foundation, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, Division of Materials Research, Biomaterials Program

Center for the Mechanical Control of Chemistry


Researchers: Will

Collaborators: Prof. James Batteas, Texas A&M University, Prof. Andrew Rappe (UPenn), Prof. Ashlie Martini (UC-Merced), Prof. Adam Braunschweig (ASRC, CUNY)

Sponsors: National Science Foundation, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, Division of Chemistry, Integrative Program, Centers for Chemical Innovation

Tribocoatings: Protective Coatings that Manufacture Themselves for Harsh Environment Tribology Applications

Antiwear additives combat contact-induced damage on lubricated machines, like gearboxes or bearings. Nanocrystal additives dispersed in oil form robust solid layers on moving parts, protecting the surfaces even in extreme conditions. We use multiscale testing to study the antiwear mechanisms of nanocrystals in order to engineer higher-quality, eco-friendly lubricants.

Researchers: Parker LaMascus, Pezhman Palahang, Nwachkwu Ibekwe

Collaborators: Dr. Andrew Jackson (UPenn), Pixelligent LLC, Argonne National Lab, Exxon Mobil, Infineum, Winergy

Sponsors: Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Electrical Contacts in NEMS Switches

To solve the energy inefficiency problem as the size of transistors scales down, nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) switches are considered a candidate replacement/supplement to solid-state transistors in next-generation electronics. However, the biggest drawback of NEMS switches is the limited lifetime. This project aims to study the fundamental failure mechanisms of electrical contacts in NEMS switch-like conditions, and to find materials that can provide superior mechanical and electrical behaviors and high durability. 

Researchers: Dr. Cangyu Qu

Collaborators: Prof. Maarten P. de Boer (CMU), Prof. Gianluca Piazza (CMU), Prof. David J Srolovitz (City Univ. Hong Kong), Prof. Andrew M. Rappe (UPenn).

Previous projects

  • Frictional Behavior of Supported Graphene: Role of Interfacial Registry
  • Tribochemistry of Ultrahard Carbon Films: X-ray Spectromicroscopy Studies
  • Ultrananocrystalline Diamond MEMS: Integration with CMOS Electronics
  • Internal Dissipation in Diamond Microstructures
  • Nanocrystalline Diamond Coatings for Micro Tools
  • Nanomechanical Switches
  • Diamond-Like Carbon Coatings for Nanomechanical Data Storage
  • Ultrananocrystalline Diamond Atomic Force Microscope Probes
  • Nanotribology of Ultrahard Carbon Films
  • Nanotribology of Self-Assembled Monolayers
  • Realistic Contact of Rough Surfaces
  • Negative Stiffness of Carbon Nanotubes
  • Growth and Properties of Nanocrystalline Diamond Films
  • Phononic Contributions to Friction
  • Wrinkling of Polymer Surfaces
  • Calibration of Atomic Force Microscopes