Energy Absorbing Materials
Our main objective is to design and develop materials with high mechanical energy damping. In particular, we are focusing on bulk and foam materials that absorb high-frequency mechanical stresses under ambient and physiological conditions. Such materials have applications in ballistics protection, mouthguard materials, or as inserts for next-generation multi-impact helmets. Our recent work in this area has focused on thiol-ene thermoset networks, and we have discovered how molecular-level modifications in the network can have a dramatic effect on the resultant properties of the bulk material. As an example, this molecular engineering approach has developed materials where we can increase both toughness and glass transition temperature, two quantities that are typically mutually-exclusive. We are also exploring the incorporation of liquid crystals into the networks to afford shape-memory and auxetic functionality.
Our principal analytical tools are dynamic mechanical analysis, tensile testing (Instron), dynamic light scattering, and rheology. We also have access to a Dynatup high-impact drop tester.