Utah State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering Haoran Wang received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the organization's new Engineering Research Initiation program that began last year.
Wang will use the funds to develop constitutive equations that explain the governing laws for how newly created materials respond to applied force, electrical fields and chemicals. This is necessary because as new materials are developed, preexisting equations are unable to provide accurate models.
“Constitutive equations are becoming more complicated and the experiments cannot calibrate it,” Wang said.
In order to propose a new way to build those equations, Wang and his team will use a machine-learning, data-driven modeling method. By using atomistic simulations the researchers will be able to observe how each atom moves. From this information, they will build new governing equations.
Batteries are the specific material system Wang will use for this research. As battery capacity becomes larger the volume expansion that occurs during operation or when exposed to heat is more significant and leads to more significant deformation. Developing new equations that can model how this occurs will be essential in the continued development of technologies like electric vehicles.
“The research that we’re proposing is quite generic,” Wang said. “So we are using the electro materials as an example, but it definitely can apply to many other new materials. We are seeking to contribute to the fundamental level of the science of mechanics.”
University of Utah assistant professor of mechanical engineering Roseanne Warren will provide important experimental support for the research. Wang said his team will use her experiments as they work to validate their newly discovered equations.