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Periodically, the MRSEC posts scientific research Highlights, i.e. brief one or two page descriptions of important scientific or technological discoveries and innovative new outreach initiatives which have resulted from NSF or other support.  Feel free to explore the ones that we have provided here.

Click below to learn more:

IRG 1 – Stress in Thin Films and Small Scale Structures
IRG 2 – Multiscale Mechanics of Complex Microstructures

SEED – Micromechanics of Cell Adhesion

IRG 1 – Stress in Thin Films and Small Scale Structures

IRG 1 emphasizes the mechanics of thin film and small-scale structures, focusing on the energetics and stability of nanostructured materials and the evolution of stress during film growth and other non-equilibrium processes.


sn whiskerUnderstanding the Mechanisms Controlling Sn Whisker Formation - 2010

Sn whiskers are a serious reliability problem in Pb-free electronics manufacturing. More


graphene Edges-stress induced warping and rippling of graphene

sheets and nanoribbons - 2010

Graphene, an atomic layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice, is actively being pursued as a material for next-generation electronics because of the high mobility of charge carriers and the potential to control their density by applying a gate voltage. More

Kinetic Model of Whisker Growth in Sn Films - 2009

The spontaneous growth of whiskers from Pb-free Sn solder films on Cu substrates poses a serious threat to the reliability of electronic circuits. More

Grain Boundaries Control Residual Stress in Thin Films - 2009

Stresses in thin films can limit their performance or induce failure, so understanding and controlling stress evolution during growth is critical. More


Past IRG 1 Highlights

IRG 2 – Multiscale Mechanics of Complex Microstructures

IRG 2 emphasizes the multiscale mechanics of complex microstructures, focusing on the prediction and mechanisms of deformation, fracture and fatigue of micron-scale multiphase materials and ultra-fine grain materials. 


nanowires Size dependence of flow stress in amorphous nanowires - 2010

The unique microstructure and properties of amorphous materials make them attractive candidates for applications such as precision components in micro-electro-mechanical systems. More 


nanocrystalline Competing grain-boundary- and dislocation-mediated mechanisms
in plastic strain recovery in nanocrystalline Aluminum - 2010

Recent experiments (Rajagopalan et al., 2007, Science, 315:1831) have demonstrated that plastic strains in nanocrystalline Al and Au films with grain sizes on the order of 50 nm are partially recoverable. More


crack interaction Crack Interaction With Microstructure - 2010

Understanding crack growth behavior in complex materials is critical to material design for damage tolerance.  An advancing crack, by virtue of its stress field, modifies the microstructure ahead of it including include changes in dislocation density, interfaces modification, decohesion of interfaces, void nucleation, and phase transformation . More 


  Mechanics of Crack Deflection at a twist grain boundary - 2009

Heterogeneous brittle solids such as ceramics, lamellar intermetallics, and polycrystalline hexagonal-close-packed (hcp) metals such as Zr, Zn and Cd are technologically important and broadly used. More

  Crack Interaction with Grain Boundaries in Zinc Bicrystals - 2009

Grain boundaries are inherent defects in most materials of technological relevance.  Understanding how a growing crack interacts with them will enable design of microstructures to enhance the material toughness, a desirable feature for many structural applications. More 


Past IRG 2 Highlights

SEED – Micromechanics of Cell Adhesion

The Seed project extends our established expertise in quantitative mechanics to the problem of adhesion in biological systems.  This work represents a natural outgrowth of our mechanics base into a class of biological phenomena that are critical to life in animals and in which the effects of stress and deformation are paramount.

seed resistanceMolecular bond-well characteristics from force history observations - 2010

Theoretical work in the Brown MRSEC program has led to a method for extracting molecular bond characteristics (well depth cb, stiffness a/cb, and dissipation rate) from laboratory experiments on single-bond rupture experiments. More


Past SEED Highlights



RET Project: Wind Tunnel Applications for Middle School Math & Science - 2010

This project incorporates simple geometry, weather, lab skills, metric measurement, as well as having the students work through the design process and actually construct and test their creations.  The project bridges math and science  wonderfully with real world applications that the students can get excited about and really understand. More 

Brownout Program - 2009

Brown undergraduates and faculty visit local science/math classes or youth programs to present engineering topics to students in Grades K-12. More

RET Projects - 2009

Teachers work with faculty to develop classroom modules for their use. More


General Motors/Brown Collaborative Research Lab on Computational Materials Science - 2008
The laboratory for computational materials research at Brown University is one of several collaborative research laboratories established worldwide by General Motors to accelerate the pace of innovation in strategic technology areas.  More

Past Outreach/Industry Highlights