Engineering Materials at the Nanoscale

We study the mechanical behaviour of materials, mainly using computer simulation.  For us, “materials” usually means metals or polymers, but sometimes it means lubricating oils or even plasmas (so we are stretching the definition a bit). “Behaviour” is usually related to mechanical properties.  Since materials are ultimately made of atoms, we ask the question: Can we understand, describe and predict the behaviour of materials from our underlying knowledge of how those atoms interact?  To answer that question, we have to turn to computers, since the collective behaviour of many atoms is a complicated thing to describe mathematically.

Sometimes, we do experiments to synthesize materials or measure their properties, but we are almost always thinking about how the nanoscale features of the material microstructure participate in material response.