Cavitation in Soft Matter (ONR)

Cavitation is the sudden, unstable expansion of a void within a body. Although cavitation has been studied classically in fluids, its study in soft solids is limited. We propose that defined, controlled, nano-to-micrometer scale cavitation is a superb mechanism to probe the mechanical properties of complex soft materials. Our team has extensive experience in establishing cavitation rheology on a subset of synthetic gel systems and biological
tissues. Based on our previous experience with cavitation deformations, as well as several
recent studies related to cavitation-induced damage in biological tissues, we aim to provide new insight into both reversible and irreversible deformations associated with cavitation. Specifically, we will understand how material structure at the molecular, nano-, and micro-meter size scales, for tailored synthetic polymer gels and biological tissues, control cavitation dynamics, ranging from the nano- to milli-second time scales. To achieve this goal, we will combine needle-induced and laser-induced cavitation methods along with multi-scale modeling approaches to probe model polymer networks and biological tissues to provide comprehensive understanding of cavitation dynamics within heterogeneous soft materials.