Current projects

We are passionate about precision design and manufacturing of complex mechanical systems and devices. Our approach to research is basic science and applied physics-oriented. We attempt to understand the underlying physics of the problems we study, and then apply this newly gained knowledge to designing an optimized system or device that finds use in an engineering application. Our primary research expertise is in micro- and nanoscale tribology and surface engineering, (elasto)hydrodynamic and thin film lubrication, ultra-thin protective coatings, and processing and manufacturing of novel engineered materials.

Our research finds application in many engineering applications including:

  • Design of engineered bearing surfaces for prosthetic joints
  • Design of surgical devices and instruments
  • Design of ultra-thin coating and complex lubrication systems
  • Directed self-assembly of nanostructures
  • Manufacturing and processing of novel engineered materials

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Design of bio-inspired prosthetic joints for individualized orthopaedic patient care

The objective of this research is to improve the longevity of prosthetic hip and knee joints by adding a patterned microtexture to the metal bearing surface of a metal-on-polyehtylene prosthetic hip or knee joint, inspired by the microtexture of natural articular cartilage. The patterned microtexture stimulates the formation of a lubricant film, which reduces contact and wear of the bearing surfaces, and extends the longevity of the prosthetic joint. We perform model-based design and optimization of a patterned surface microtexture on the femoral component (knee) and femoral head (hip) that minimizes friction and wear between the bearing surfaces of the prosthetic joint. Using this model, we optimize the microtexture design for different, individual patient life-styles (active, non-active). In addition, we have built a custom testing apparatus to measure friction and wear of surrogate hip and knee prosthetic joints, and we benchmark microtextured designs with traditional smooth prosthetic joint designs. 


Mechanics of ultra-thin diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings 

We use molecular dynamics to simulate deformation and delamination of ultra-thin multi-layer diamond-like carbon coatings under complex combined loading situations, and attempt to understand how coating design parameters play a role in coating wear and delamination as a function of external loading. We apply this knowledge to designing protective coatings used on magnetic recording heads in hard drives. In this application, the DLC coating protects the intricate magnetic structures in the recording head from accidental impacts between the recording head and the magnetic disk. 


Mechanics of ultra-thin polymer lubricant systems 

We use molecular dynamics to simulate the physical behavior of polymer-based lubricant as it interacts with a substrate material, and attempt to understand how the physical and chemical characteristics of the lubricant affect the mechanics and physics of the lubricant as it spreads and interacts with the substrate material. We apply this knowledge to designing complex ultra-thin lubricant systems used in biomedical applications, micro-electromechanical systems, and hard drives.


Scalable ultrasound directed self-assembly

Ultrasound directed self-assembly enables organizing large quantities of nanoparticles into patterns using an ultrasound wave field generated by one or more ultrasound transducers. The objective of this work is to understand the physical mechanisms that drive ultrasound directed self-assembly. We attempt to use this knowledge to use ultrasound directed self-assembly as a scalable manufacturing technique, which can be used to manufacture engineered materials with patterns of nanoscale inclusions, including dielectric metamaterials and nanocomposite materials. 


Design of surgical instrument for cataract surgery

In this project we attempt to design a surgical instrument to perform capsulorhexis - the opening of the anterior lens capsule of the eye - one of the most critical steps during cataract surgery.