The MS2M = Mechanics of Smart and Soft Materials Lab is directed by Dr. Aurélie Azoug and focuses on the mechanical behavior of smart and/or soft materials, mostly polymers and elastomers. Specifically, we are interested in the underlying mechanisms leading to the macroscopic behavior. We investigate the time-dependent and temperature-dependent mechanical behaviors of active elastomers in order to develop reliable theoretical models.
The research combines experimental investigations with modeling approaches to understand and predict the nonlinear behavior of these new materials. Active polymers present a modeling challenge because the actuation results from the coupling between at least two physical mechanisms. The small scale mechanisms, such as polymer chain dynamics, swelling, actuation, and ageing, result in the observed nonlinear behavior. Understanding the mutual interactions between these mechanisms governs the quality of the theoretical models.
The lab is also interested in exploring innovative applications for liquid crystal elastomers, using new manufacturing methods and synthesis routes applicable to soft materials.