The Materials Geometry group studies the structure and properties of soft materials. We apply tools from geometry to extract the universal features of material behavior. Some highlights of our current interests are found below, and more details and projects can be found on our News page.
Manipulating the micro-structure of a material can endow it with effective properties phenomenally different than one without structure. Our research aims to develop the principles needed to design, de novo, materials with exotic mechanical properties by manipulating their geometry.
We currently have a significant effort in the mechanics of structured sheets such as origami, the design of curved shapes from the inhomogeneous growth of elastic films, and the coating of fluid interfaces by sheets.
Liquid crystals are materials in which the molecules have an organization in between the absolute rigidity of a crystal and the constant rearrangements in a fluid. They are characterized by “defects” in their order, which can often be partially understood in terms of geometric arguments. Many of the classical minimal surfaces appear in smectic liquid crystals, in which molecules are arranged into uniformly-spaced fluid layers.
Pulling a chain rapidly off a table causes it to rise into the air. This has lead our group to study a number of problems in the dynamics of chains and sheets. Watch some movies of this effect and more on our multimedia page! The tension in a string often leads to a number of seemingly mysterious effects.