Mechanics, Materials, and Computing Research-Civil and Environmental Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Mechanics, Materials, and Computing 

The Mechanics, Materials and Computing (MMC) group conducts research focused on the scientific understanding and practical application of the emergent complex behavior of materials. Using computer simulation techniques, MMC researchers analyze the deformation, flow and failure of both natural and engineered materials. Using advanced modeling and large-scale computer simulation techniques, current research focuses on:

  • Mechanics of crystalline, granular and amorphous materials 
  • Dislocation mechanics
  • Phase transformations
  • Atomistic simulation
  • The electromechanics of ‘smart’ materials
  • The rheology of complex fluids
  • The mechanics of soft matter and
  • Engineering seismology and earthquake engineering

Research also aims to gain a better understanding of complex physical phenomena that would be difficult, if not impossible, to study by other means. Using mechanics, mathematics, and scientific computing as a foundation, the MMC group addresses the numerical simulation of solid, mechanical, and thermal phenomena with applications in the analysis and optimum design of engineering systems.

Multiscale Modeling of Autonomous ODE Systems

Many physical systems in nature can be modeled, directly or after spatial discretization, as systems of nonlinear ordinary differential equations (ODE). Molecular Dynamics (MD) is one such example and requires time step in the order of femto-seconds in the time integration algorithm due to high frequencies of atomic vibrations.

Professor Amit Acharya is developing practical models for coarse-graining ODE in time, with the aim of predicting coarse response of fine-scale dynamics. With Professor Kaushik Dayal, he explores defining the coarse response of MD in the timescale of nano to micro-seconds, which can lead to considerable computational savings. The realization of this work utilizes the ideas of time averaging and state-of-the-art multiscale modeling techniques.

Active Materials and Devices at the Nanometer Scale

Active materials display unusual couplings between deformation, temperature, optics, and electromagnetism. Current research and development of micro-nano electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) provides new opportunities for exploiting active materials. Professor Kaushik Dayal is formulating models and developing numerical techniques to aid design and fabrication of future MEMS/NEMS devices. Currently, he focuses on using ferroelectrics to design new optical switching devices. He also works on questions related to device reliability.


Sweating The Small Stuff: Nanoscale Modeling in the Dayal Research Group

Dayal's current research, funded by the Army Research Office, focuses on understanding the physics behind atom-to-atom interactions at the nanoscale level, and has the potential to change the way we power our vehicles and our cities.  [MORE]

Crystal Plasticity

The study of the solid mechanics of crystalline bodies of structural dimensions in the 1m-10nm range requires the consideration of crystal lattice defects, the most common of which is the crystal dislocation. Professor Amit Acharya’s research in field dislocation mechanics and plasticity focuses on improved understanding of crystalline plasticity from the nano to the macro scales, with a view towards developing predictive theory and computational tools for deformation-induced microstructure evolution.


Even Materials Get Stressed: Amit Acharya’s Work on Line Defects

Professor Amit Acharya is studying how imperfections interact and evolve in crystalline and amorphous materials, and the potential applications of his research range from auto body and gas turbine manufacturing to earthquake prediction. [MORE]

End-to-End Earthquake Modeling and Infrastructure Response

Professor Jacobo Bielak is working on several different aspects of end-to-end earthquake modeling and infrastructure response: the forward and inverse-based simulation of the earthquake ground motion in large basins using high performance computing; the effect of this ground motion in large basins using high performance computing; and the effect of this ground motion on portions of an entire city, including building, bridges, and underground structures. 

Professor Bielak and Professor Amit Acharya also use concepts of dislocation mechanics to study the dynamic rupture process on faults hoping to generate realistic scenario earthquakes that can be used as input in end-to-end, or rupture to rivets, simulations.

Earth Quake Model

Collaboration with Colombian University Leads to First Velocity Model of Aburrá Valley

Professor Jacobo Bielak, an expert in earthquake engineering, is involved in a number of international earthquake simulation projects from Japan to Colombia. Here, he introduces one of those projects and the advantages of research that spans multiple countries and cultures. [MORE]

More information about the exciting projects being done by our world-class faculty and students can be found by visiting the websites of our faculty and their individual research groups, as well as the Research Profiles section of our website.