Research Overview


Our research group philosophy is deeply motived by a common passion for energy and sustainability solutions to address many of the most critical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, including development of low-cost and high efficiency renewable energy sources, accelerating electrification of vehicles through high energy density batteries and lightweight composites, and utilizing sunlight for water purification and sustainable manufacturing.  Our group members come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, but what ties us all together is this common vision.  From a technical standpoint, our research bridges the intersection between materials, manufacturing, and design in a manner that builds upon core principles of Mechanical Engineering, but applies them in non-traditional manners.  For example, we believe that there is a large gap in knowledge at the intersection of solid mechanics, chemistry, nanotechnology, and machine design that affords unique opportunities for mechanical engineers to make an impact on energy and sustainability challenges.  While this often requires us to reach beyond our traditional “comfort zones” as engineers, this common motivation fuels this passion among our group members to continue their lifelong journey as learners, and prepare for a successful career as interdisciplinary researchers in their future careers.

Research into nanoscale materials has extended into many aspects of modern human civilization, including electronic devices, energy conversion, biomedical devices, and structural materials.  However, while there has been a dramatic increase in the discovery of novel materials and physical phenomena in nanoscale components, the complexity of nanoscale systems is still in its infancy compared to macroscopic manufacturing successes such as aerospace vehicles and biomedical robotics.  To overcome this gap, our research focuses on the development of novel nanomanufacturing processes for the synthesis, assembly, and characterization of complex multi-component systems.  We gain inspiration from natural integrated nanosystems observed in biology, as well as engineering design and manufacturing principles.  Our vision is for the 21st century engineer to be able to design and model technologies with the complexity and control afforded by macroscopic manufacturing processes, using the nanoscale building blocks provided by chemistry and materials science.  We focus on the precise modification and control of surfaces and interfaces, which are critical components in the assembly and functionality of integrated systems at the nanoscale.  Drawing on a background in mechanical engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering, our research team maintains an interdisciplinary perspective on science and engineering, and explores the application of these systems into a variety of disciplines with an emphasis on energy and environmental sustainability.

For more information on current research projects, please follow the links to the left.