Our researchers are developing a new generation of bio-geotechnical engineering processes to transform the design, construction, operation and maintenance of resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure and resource development systems. From carbonate cemented sand and root-inspired reinforcement to seed germination and ant tunnels, our solutions are inspired by nature. Research focus areas include hazard mitigation, environmental protection, infrastructure construction, resource development and crosscutting applications. Georgia Tech is one of four U.S. universities with an established individual investigator program, part of the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics, overseen by the National Science Foundation.
The existing Georgia Tech research portfolio in nanocellulosic materials includes aspects of characterization for manufacturing of the materials, their use in catalysis, liquid crystalline properties, and application in electronic devices such as displays and solar cells. However, the majority of efforts have been in the area of composite materials, spanning novel approaches to processing them with colloidal processing and water-based techniques to designing composite barrier materials to producing high strength fibers and bulk materials. In particular, efforts and facilities in the production of fiber is a key strength at Georgia Tech. Overall, these efforts have helped to establish a core group of faculty - and a multi-disciplinary approach with the Renewable Bioproducts Institute - with the ability to produce materials in small quantities, characterize their structure, and use them in standalone systems or as part of a larger materials framework to answer challenges in several application areas.
Georgia Tech Polymer Network
The Georgia Tech Polymer Network serves to coordinate the efforts of polymer science and engineering faculty on campus by providing a means to foster communication and collaborative interactions. With more than 20 faculty participants in four Schools across the Colleges of Science and Engineering, the GTPN seeks to generate an atmosphere for developing a broad visibility nationally and internationally through education, research and seminar programs. Students enrolled at Georgia Tech interested in polymer science and engineering are encouraged to join the GTPN Student Association (GTPN-SA). The GTPN-SA is a student led organization within the GTPN umbrella. Students are directly involved in a range of activities including but not limited to:
Hosting seminar speakers,
Organizing/managing professional development workshops,
Organizing/managing technical poster sessions and mini-symposia,
Electromagnetic propulsion, which can send an aircraft, satellite, shuttle, bullet or train zooming through the air or along a track, produces extreme temperatures and wear. In other words, electromagnetic propulsion is so intense that it severely damages the guns and launchers that use it. This is the challenge for researchers: to make devices that can be used consistently without becoming seriously damaged. The heat and friction caused by electromagnetic propulsion is much different from traditional chemical acceleration (such as the explosion that propels a bullet from a gun) and is not yet fully understood. In fact, electromagnetic propulsion produces certain effects that currently defy scientific explanation.
Our researchers are studying the effects very high electromagnetic stress can have on electromagnetic launchers. The diverse research group comes from the disciplines of tribology, physics, materials science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, all focused on understanding what materials, lubricants and designs are needed to reduce the damage caused by electromagnetic propulsion.
Materials in Extreme Environments
Georgia Tech has a unique combination of experimental facilities and modeling and simulation capabilities to explore far from equilibrium behavior of materials subjected to high strain rate loading conditions, elevated temperature deformation and fracture, corrosion and coupled mechano-chemical reactions, and irradiation service environments.
Multiscale Sciences in Materials Discovery and Development
The ability to quantify and understand cause and effect relationships between various scales of hierarchy of material structure and material properties is key to design and development of new and improved materials. Both experiments and computational simulation at and across various length and time scales are essential to understanding mechanisms that affect material responses. There is typically considerable uncertainty in muiltiscale process-structure-property relations across length and time scales. Systems engineering approaches and modern data sciences offer powerful additional means to accelerate the rate of materials discovery and development, including digital representations of structures, data analytics, data mining, and machine learning for process-structure and structure-property relations.
The Institute of Materials is helping to define the Materials Innovation Ecosystem at Georgia Tech and more broadly in the US by investing in materials data sciences and informatics approaches to pursue e-collaborations and advanced correlations between structure and properties. These approaches are being applied through seed funding, graduate level course in materials informatics, and a joint IMat-College of Computing NSF IGERT program FLAMEL to educate and train the future workforce in data sciences and informatics at the intersection of materials and manufacturing. These initiatives are being applied to broad ranges of material classes, from structural metals and composites to nematic crystals, to materials and interfaces for catalysis, to thermoplastic polymers, to extrusion membranes, nanoporous foams, to thin film transistors and nanowires.
Furthermore, a web-based platform MATIN is being developed to facilitate e-collaboration of distributed research teams, including advanced data representation, data analytics and correlations, and tracking of collaborative workflows. These activities represent a strong vision and strategy to take advantage of explosive advances in big data and open source web applications in advancing 21st century multiscale materials science.
The Georgia Tech Soft Materials Workgroup brings together researchers with an interest in molecular forces, biophysics, molecular electronics and fluid dynamics to discuss their work and explore collaborations. This group organizes two distinct initiatives:
The Soft Matter Group in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech focuses on the interface between colloidal physics, nanoscience, granular materials and hydrodynamics. We combine experiments at different length scales with theory to explore a range of scientific and technological aspects relevant to topics such as the dynamics of fluid interfaces from the macroscopic down to the molecular level, the physics of liquid crystal materials in curved spaces, soft particles in complex fluids, and self-assembly under confinement.
Tissue Repair and Regeneration
The promise of regenerative medicine is truly remarkable. Over the last two decades, significant breakthroughs in understanding within the regenerative medicine and tissue engineering fields have yielded a more intimate understanding of the functioning of human tissue. In the future, new technologies may deliver islet cells for diabetes, neural regeneration for spinal cord injuries and more substantial heart repair. In addition, as biology, bioengineering and medicine continue to converge, the regenerative medicine field may succeed in building three-dimensional organs like hearts, kidneys or livers.
A biomaterial is any material, natural or man-made, that is made compatible with living tissues and performs, aids, or replaces a natural function and is used and adapted for a medical application. Biomaterials may have a benign function, such as being used for a heart valve, or may be bioactive with a more interactive functionality such as scaffolds for cell delivery and engraftment and a delivery vehicle for controlled delivery of biotherapeutics.
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometers in at least one dimension, and involves developing materials or devices possessing at least one dimension within that size. Quantum mechanical effects are very important at this scale. Nanotechnology is highly diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale. There is much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production.