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August 6, 2020

Thevamaran receives Army grant to study lightweight protective materials

Written By: Adam Malecek

 Ramathasan Thevamaran
Ramathasan Thevamaran

Ramathasan Thevamaran, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics at UW-Madison, has received a $450,000 grant from the Army Research Office to support his research exploring the properties of hierarchical materials and how these materials could be tailored to provide both superior stiffness and vibration damping.

“To design lightweight materials for extreme structural vibration control applications, it’s often desirable for the material to have superior stiffness and damping,” Thevamaran says. “However, because of the mutually exclusive nature of these two mechanical properties, it’s challenging to synergistically improve them in a material.”

To address this challenge, Thevamaran aims to develop a fundamental understanding of the key relationships between materials’ structural features across multiple length scales and their mechanical properties. He is using vertically aligned carbon nanotube foams as model systems in this research.

“Professor Thevamaran’s research program will provide important insights into ways to reduce the weight of structures and mitigate the vibrations caused by extreme events,” says Denise Ford, program manager at the Army Research Office, an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. “His lab will explore the static and dynamic properties of a complex and difficult-to-control class of architected materials, which can potentially lead to improved soldier protections and Army vehicles.”

Thevamaran says the insights developed in this research can also potentially help in understanding the mechanical behavior of other similar hierarchical materials systems such as composites and biological materials.