Mechanical Behavior of Random Fiber Networks

R.C. Picu, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Friday, April 13, 2012, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

The deformation of dense, random fiber networks is important in a variety of applications including biological and man-made systems. Examples from the living world include the cellular cytoskeleton and various types of connective tissue. Examples from the non-living world include paper, rubber, insulation, and consumer products such as baby diapers. In all these applications mechanics is important since the network performs a structural function. In this work we study physical aspects of the deformation such as: how the intrinsic heterogeneity of the network controls the overall system behavior, whether both bending and axial stiffness of individual fibers are important on the system scale, and whether characteristic length scales can be identified for this type of material. We also develop methods to solve boundary value problems defined on domains containing a large number of fibers without discretizing each fiber in the system, i.e., we develop coarse grained models for fiber-based materials. The presentation will include results pertaining to both cross-linked and entangled networks. A brief review of other ongoing projects will be also presented.

About the Speaker

Professor Picu received his Ph.D. from Dartmouth College and then spent three years at Brown University as a postdoctoral research associate. He became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1998. He is currently Professor in the same Department. He published two books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. He is a Fellow of ASME.