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©2018 by SIGMa Lab.

RESEARCH

Letting Nature Underpin Engineering

MULTISCALE MODELING AND SIMULATION OF STRUCTURES MADE OF HETEROGENEOUS MATERIALS

The objective of this research is to develop a fundamental understanding of the influences of the composition and microstructure of heterogeneous composites on the continuum and large-scale properties of systems and structures made of them. To that end, we use hierarchical, multiscale computational and laboratory approaches to better understand the evolution and relationships of properties across different length and time scales.

DEVELOPING AN INTEGRATED DESIGN ENGINEERING PARADIGM FOR POLYMER NANOCOMPOSITES

The objective of this research is to develop an integrated computational material engineering (ICME) paradigm for polymer nanocomposites. We integrate laboratory observations across different length and time scales with a hierarchical multiscale computational methodology to develop virtual materials testing standards that will in turn facilitate the development and shorten the time-to-market of innovative materials. The chief part of this research is understanding the influences of the four tenets of materials science and engineering, namely, synthesis/processing, structure/composition, property, and performance/application on the properties of the final product. To that end, we use several means including nanoscopic and microscopic visualization techniques, ab initio calculations, molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations, and machine learning techniques.

DEVELOPING NATURE-INSPIRED COMPUTATIONAL AND OPTIMIZATION ALGORITHMS

Complex systems are often characterized by considerable nonlinearities and sizeable data that are often uncertain, evolving, incomplete, conflicting or overlapping, making achieving an efficiency-accuracy balance in their analysis and optimization very challenging. Examples of such systems are infrastructure systems, which play a chief role in sustainable and resilient development worldwide. Diminishing bonanzas of conventional energy has created a significant demand for the optimization of these systems without eliminating their important redundancies and making them vulnerable to what would otherwise be normal shocks and disturbances.
While the terms optimization, sustainability, resiliency and redundancy seem asynchronous to us, in the course of billions of years of evolutionary history, nature has heuristically developed a diverse, remarkably ingenious set of dynamic and robust strategies that have endowed creatures and organisms with optimum yet sustainably-resilient adaptability to their in-flux environments.
At SIGMa, we aspire to make strides toward understanding these strategies, mathematically formulate them and explore their applicability to solving a variety of complex engineering problems.

SEISMIC VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE

The majority of the US infrastructure systems were designed and built in the 1950s through 1970s with insufficient knowledge about the seismicity of their locations and their seismic response. For example, a recent report by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rated approximately 200,000 bridges—one-third of the US bridges—as structurally deficient (i.e. requiring significant maintenance and repair) or functionally obsolete (i.e. built to obsolete standards). It is, therefore, envisaged that many states will incur challenging post-earthquake situations if major seismic events occur.
At SIGMa, we identify structurally-deficient and vital elements of the transportation network (e.g. tunnels and bridges) and evaluate their seismic vulnerability and make recommendations on their seismic retrofit priorities.

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