Current research in the Gao group is focused on nanomechanics of engineering and biological systems. For engineering systems, we study deformation, diffusion, growth, grain boundaries, stress evolution and failure in thin films and nanocrystalline materials. For biological systems, we use continuum mechanics, statistical mechanics and atomistic simulations to study how biological materials such as bone, gecko and cell achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy. The critical issues under investigation include stiffness, toughness, contact, adhesion, viscoelasticity, diffusion, size effects, convergent evolution, flaw tolerance, optimal shape, aspect ratios, self-assembly, endocytosis, etc. 

Engineering Systems 

Grain Boundary Diffusion, Dislocation Processes and Stress Evolution during Thin Film Deposition 

Biological Systems

Stochastic Models of Polymers in Strong Confinement 

Continuum and Statistical Studies of Focal Contact in Cell Adhesion

Continuum and Statistical Modeling of Endocytosis

Atomistic Simulations in Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics 

Recent Highlights of Our Research

Bottom-up Designed Hierarchical Adhesion Structures of Gecko

Viruses Enter Cells at Optimal Size

Optimal Adhesion of Gecko Hairs

Flaw Tolerance at Small Scale

Cracks Propagate Supersonically