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Natural and Advanced Materials Engineering

BRICThe Scientific Innovations in Complex Engineering Materials Research Group, composed of Dr. William Jordan, Dr. Douglas Smith, Dr. David Jack and Dr. Sunghwan Lee, have established a world class polymer and composite characterization research facility. This facility is the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) – see The BRIC houses shared space for research/industry collaborations, workforce training, symposia and community events in its 330K sq-ft facility optimized for both research and advanced prototyping.

For a current list of available equipment, please go to

Available Equipment

Fiber Reinforced Plastic Composite Materials

Faculty: Dr. William Jordan

William Jordan is interested in the mechanical behavior of materials. Most of his work has been with fiber reinforced plastic composite materials. Much of his current work is focused on using natural fibers as the reinforcing agent. He is currently concentrating on using fibers from the pseudo-stem of banana plants. He has also worked with coir and sisal fiber based composite materials. He is interested in issues related to sustainability engineering. He also does work in the area of engineering entrepreneurship.

Ultrasonic Characterization of Fiber Reinforced Composites

Faculty: Dr. David Jack

Parts, such as an airplane wing, cannot be analyzed using destructive testing methods that cause permanent damage. Thus, a nondestructive testing method, in this case ultrasound, must be employed to ascertain the material properties. The current study utilizes ultrasonic A-scan and C-scan techniques to identify the lamina orientation in each ply of the fiber reinforced laminate. We are currently able to identify both the ply orientation and ply type (unidirectional, 2x2, twill, etc.) for 8-12 layer composite structures. The work is being extended to related applications where microstructure is of interest (i.e., tow separation, tow pullout, bonding zone, etc.). See the following link for more details [Ultrasonic Characterization of Fiber Reinforced Composites]

Fiber Orientation Prediction Models for Fiber-Filled Thermoplastic Composites

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith,  Dr. David Jack

The purpose of this study is to use fiber orientation prediction models to optimize injection molding processing and final part dimensions to achieve the desired part mechanical properties. Our goal is to compare the predicted composite part mechanical properties derived from two separate fiber orientation models with experimental results to determine the more accurate fiber orientation model. This work to date has resulted in over 10 journal publications within the top quartile of their respective impact factor category and has caused an industry wide change in the way in which fiber orientation is analyzed. See the following link for more details [Fiber Orientation Prediction Models for Fiber-Filled Thermoplastic Composites]

Laminate Dimensionality: Residual Stresses and Processed Part Curvature

Faculty: Dr. David Jack

Carbon fiber laminates are extensively used within the automotive and aerospace industries due to their high strength to weight ratios. During manufacturing residual strains are introduced due to a combination of the curing kinetics of the thermoset and the induced thermal strains due to a coefficient of thermal expansion mismatch for the resin and carbon fiber. The objective of this research is to use micromechanical theories to predict the stiffness and the coefficient of thermal expansion of an individual lamina from the constitutive properties for the fiber and the matrix, and couple the lamina results with a finite element structural and coupled thermal-structural analysis to predict the observed stiffness and the observed strain of a processed laminate. See the following link for more details [Laminate Dimensionality: Residual Stresses and Processed Part Curvature]

Modeling and Simulation the Electrical and Thermal Behavior of Carbon Nanotube Networks

Faculty: Dr. David Jack
There does not exist a physics-based model to couple the electrical and thermal conductivity of a macro-scale network of neat single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT), with an emphasis given to applications with large current loads. The objective of this work is to form a fundamental link between the stochastic nature of the nanostructure and the bulk response of the network, and how this coupling affects the damage mechanisms under large current loading. We have demonstrated success in: (1) Full 3-D network, (2) Coupled thermal and electrical effects, (3) Steady-state and transient responses for a variety of nanostructure configurations, and (4) Provided the first reasonable explanation for the premature observed failure mechanism. See the following link for more details [Modeling and Simulation the Electrical and Thermal Behavior of Carbon Nanotube Networks]

Growth of CNT Forests for Impact Resistant Composites

Faculty: Dr. David Jack

Carbon nanotube (CNT) systems when grown vertically have demonstrated unusual dynamic and degree of strain behavior that may make them applicable for impact loadings. The objective of this study is to fabricate CNT reinforced composite structures and identify their resistance to impact loadings. To date we have: (1) Fabricated CNT forests using the chemical vapor deposition process (CVD). (2) incorporated the CNT forests into classical laminated composites, and (3) have performed preliminary low velocity and ballistic impact tests with promising results for mitigating the magnitude of the impact load. See the following link for more details [Growth of CNT Forests for Impact Resistant Composites]

Development of Finite Element Analysis Tool for Prediction of Cement in Casing Collapse

Faculty: Dr. David Jack

The tie-back region within an oil and gas well is often used to allow a continuous casing string. This additional string provides enhanced zone isolation and increased structural strength. This region is not well understood. The objective of this work is to develop an in-house thermo-structural FEA program capable of calculating the probabilistic stresses applied to a tie-back in an oilfield well to identify how an imperfect cement job affects the structural stability of the tie-back. See the following link for more details [Development of Finite Element Analysis Tool for Prediction of Cement in Casing Collapse]

Fiber1Fiber Orientation Modeling in FDM Nozzle Flow

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith

The effects of nozzle shape and die swell on the orientation of fibers suspended in the polymer melt flow are evaluated for the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Additive Manufacturing process. The COMSOL multiphysics program is used to simulate the flow of polymer melt in the nozzle where die swell just outside the nozzle exit is determined by minimizing free surface stresses. Fiber2Fiber orientation is predicted along streamlines within the flow using Advani-Tucker orientation tensors and Tucker-Folgar isotropic diffusion with the fast exact closure. Predicted results show fiber orientation is largely dependent on nozzle convergence shape and die swell. [Fiber Orientation Modeling in FDM Nozzle Flow]

Non-Isotropic Material Distribution Topology Optimization

Faculty: Dr. Douglas SmithNon-Iso
Additive Manufacturing processes are known to result in materials with a non-isotropic response, especially when polymer composites are used in the Fused Deposition Modeling process. This project determines optimal topologies assuming that the underlying materials have a preferred, non-isotropic orientation. Results show significant changes in optimal topologies occur when oriented materials are used. [Non-Isotropic Material Distribution Topology Optimization]

Large Scale FDM Composite Material Deposition

fdm2Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
Interest in large scale deposition with short fiber composites (i.e., nozzle exit diameters larger than ¼ inch) has resulted in a need to understand nozzle flow, deposition geometries, and fiber orientation in this process. fdm1This project focuses on depositing large beads of fiber filled materials on a controllable moving platform to measure various parameters important to 3D printing of these materials. [Large Scale FDM Composite Material Deposition]

Micro-Mechanics Modeling of FDM Composites

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
micro1The effect of carbon fiber filler in polymer composites significantly effects the mechanical properties of the final part, particularly when used in the Fusedmicro2Deposition Modeling process. This project looks at the micro-mechanical behavior using representative volume elements (RVE) with the finite element method (FEM). Of particular interest is computing effective elastic and viscoelastic properties, as well as effective thermal expansion coefficients and residual stress. The inclusion of fiber filler and voids are considered. [Micro-Mechanics Modeling of FDM Composites]

Mechanical Evaluation of Carbon Fiber Filled FDM Components

Faculty: Dr. Douglas SmithFDM
Adding carbon fiber to ABS or PLA for use in desktop fused deposition modeling is expected to increase the stiffness and strength of the additive manufacture part. This project quantifies the benefit of adding fibers by characterizing the fiber content and measuring material properties for fiber filled FDM parts produced with various deposition path orientations. [Mechanical Evaluation of Carbon Fiber Filled FDM Components]

Polymer Flow Processing Design

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
poly1Design optimization and Design Sensitivity Analysis are developed for molding and extrusion-based polymer processing. Simulations are performed with the finite element methodpoly2 and design derivatives needed for the optimization are computed with the adjoint variable and direct methods. A unique design approach is developed that determines optimal mold cavity and flat die designs where special attention is given to obtaining a design that is optimal over various operating temperatures and with various materials. [Polymer Flow Processing Design]

Optimization-Based Inverse Heat Transfer

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
inv1An optimization-based approach is developed for computing effective surface heat transfer coefficients for components manufactured with the quench heat treatment process. Measured temperature histories serve as input to the process where the difference between these values and those predicted inv2with an ABAQUS-based finite element model are minimized by adjusting the surface heat transfer coefficients. This approach is unique in that phase transformation kinetics are included in the simulation, and the surface heat transfer is parameterized as a function of both time and temperature. [Optimization-Based Inverse Heat Transfer]

Computing Eigenvalue and Eigen Vector Design Derivatives

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
eig1A novel design sensitivity analysis method is developed for computing design derivatives of eigenvalues and eigenvectors where the mode shape normalization condition is used to bring the system of equations to full rank, making it possible to uniquely define the desired derivatives. eig2The effect of rescaling the eigenvectors is also considered, and the popular method by Nelson (1972) is shown to be a subset of this broader approach. [Computing Eigenvalue and Eigen Vector Design Derivatives]

Total Hip Anthroplasty Simulation

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
hipA patient specific finite element approach is developed for performing a mechanical simulation of hip cup insertion for THA. Patient specific geometry is obtained from CT scans which is used to generate the complex 3D geometry of the hip. Finite element models are then generated for the acetabulum region of the hip and the hip cup which is inserted as part of the simulation. Stresses and deformations are computed in the FE approach. [Total Hip Anthroplasty Simulation]

SI Joint Modeling

Faculty: Dr. Douglas Smith
Patient specific SI joint cartilage models are developedsi_2 to study stresses and deformations that cause lower back pain. Plaster models are created from cadavers which are scanned to obtain an accurate 3D representation of the SI joint surface. These surface models are then used to create patient specific finite element models of the cartilage. These models are used to predict stresses and contact pressures in the cartilage at various angles of loading. [SI Joint Modeling]


Thin Film Materials and Devices

Faculty: Dr. Sunghwan Lee

The focus of his research is electronic thin films and their various electronic and energy conversion device applications in macro to nano-scale providing new levels of performance and device functionalities in areas of information processing, sensing, and renewable energy conversion.

1.  Transparent and Flexible Electronics Next generation high performance display devices require new materials that present high carrier mobility, excellent stability over time, and low cost-processibility. We focus on the development of new types of materials including transition-metal oxides, conjugated polymers, and the fabrication of thin film transistors (TFTs) for the potential applications in high-performance active matrix OLED displays.

2.  Materials for Energy Conversion Devices There is a clear and urgent need for the development of new- and/or renewable energy technologies. Our research interests lie in materials processing using novel synthesis techniques (e.g., oxidative CVD, extremely low oxygen pressure annealing) and uncovering their physical properties for energy conversion device applications (e.g., Solar cells, Fuel cells).