MAE Colloquium: Professor Yunlan Zhang


B11 Kimball Hall B11 Kimball Hall


Architected Material Analogs of Shape Memory Alloys

Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are smart materials that find applications in areas as diverse as medical devices, endodontic files, and structural dampers for infrastructures. Nevertheless, the widespread use of these materials is limited by their high cost, which is driven by the need for high-purity raw materials and extensive thermo-mechanical processing. Architected materials are another class of emerging materials that usually consist of numerous unit cells. By tailoring the geometry and topology of the unit cells, these materials can exhibit novel and/or customized properties and responses to physical stimuli. Here, we create a type of architected material that can reproduce the novel properties of SMAs which are referred to as Architected Material Analogs of SMAs (ASMAs). ASMAs comprise periodic multistable unit cells and can exhibit both the salient behaviors, superelasticity and shape memory effect of SMAs. ASMAs can be made from a wide variety of polymers, made by many different low-cost production processes as well as 3D printing, and are designed to respond to various stimuli such as heat, magnetic fields, and solvent absorption. ASMAs offer a lower-cost alternative that can expand the design space for SMA-like material behavior to include larger-scale (e.g., seismic resistance device) or lower-cost applications (e.g., medical implants).


Bio: Yunlan Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Before she joined UT, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Engineering Science at University of Oxford. She received her PhD and MS degrees in civil engineering from Purdue University in 2019, and her BS in civil engineering from The Ohio State University in 2012. Her research interests include architected materials, deployable structures, and bioinspired design. She wants to combine her knowledge of structures and materials to create advanced structures with applications that range in scale from microscopic medical devices to macroscopic infrastructure retrofits and extraterrestrial habitats. She enjoys working with students just as much as conducting research.