The materials and structures group focuses on developing and optimizing materials, processes, structures and devices over multiple length scales for operation in extreme environments and special applications. Our activities include the optimization of composite fabrication processes; the design, analysis, fabrication and testing of high performance composite structures for aerospace, automotive, consumer products and sports equipment; novel designs for materials and structures inspired by nature; development of advanced materials and devices for MEMS used for sensing and energy harvesting; fundamental studies of the mechanics of nanocomposite thin films and of the micromechanics of deformation and fracture in biological materials; multiscale analysis; the design and optimization of cellular solids and deployable microstructures; and the process modelling and development of polymer nanocomposites. Examples of recent projects include: helicopter component design, automotive body panels, new fabrication processes for composite airframe structures, composite bicycle components, natural fiber musical instruments, micro-fuel cells and micro-engines for energy harvesting, ultra-light lattice materials for aerospace structural components, fracture mechanics in natural armor systems and bio-inspired composite materials.
Our facilities include universal load testing machines and custom-made pneumatic fatigue testing jigs in order to assess the mechanical performance of materials and structures. Temperature and rate dependence of materials are investigated with state-of-the-art equipment including Differential Scanning Calorimeters (DSC), Thermo Mechanical Analyzers (TMA), Rheometers and Dynamic Mechanical Analyzers (DMA). A drop impact tower and a custom gas gun are used to investigate the response of materials at higher strain rates. The mechanics of deformation and fracture of materials are explored at the micro and nanoscales using small-scale (Hysitron nanoindenter) and in-situ techniques (where the micromechanics of deformation and fracture are monitored with optical, electron or atomic force microscopes). The vibration and damping of MEMS components are investigated at low pressures using a vacuum-compatible platform equipped with a laser Doppler vibrometer. Manufacturing processes are investigated using hot presses, ovens and a vacuum assisted resin transfer molding cell. Micromachining and nanoscale patterning are performed in the multi-user Nanotools Microfabrication facilities at McGill University. In order to characterize the structure of materials, our laboratories include optical microscope, two atomic force microscopes (including an environmental AFM) and an X-ray imaging system. The group has also access to the McGill Facility for Electron Microscopy (SEM, TEM), the Bone Centre (microCT) and CLUMEQ supercomputing facilities to model and predict the influence of microstructures on deformation and fracture processes.
Research funding is primarily contributed by the federal and provincial governments through agencies such as NSERC, CFI, FQRNT, CRC and CIHR; organizations such as CRIAQ and CREPEC; and industries such as Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, Bell Helicopter, General Motors of Canada, and Allen Vanguard.