Mechanical Engineering research is supported by a wide variety of exciting, well-funded projects addressing modern topics in the key focus areas of Air Quality, Bioengineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanics of Material, Micro/Nanoscale, Robotics and Systems Design, Thermo Fluid Sciences
Research projects harness state-of-the-art experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches to training students and advancing the frontiers of technology, while at the same time focusing on fundamentals in the underlying disciplines of fluid and solid mechanics, thermal engineering, materials engineering, design, manufacturing, and computational engineering.
Graduate and undergraduate researchers enjoy access to leading edge facilities, work closely with vibrant, highly-qualified faculty, and benefit from strong interactions with industry. Many take advantage of opportunities to work on year-long industry-sponsored design projects facilitated by our Design Center Colorado. Close partnerships with national research laboratories in the Boulder area further strengthen our research programs. Our faculty are professionally active and well-recognized. Nearly all of our senior faculty have attained fellow-level status in major professional societies. Over the last few years our faculty have also received three of the highest awards given nationally by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Research and coursework in the Air Quality track encompass a broad range of topics from air quality monitoring, climate change, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and health impacts, to air pollution engineering, control, and policy. Research addresses monitoring and impact assessment on scales spanning from local (building-scale) to regional and global; from fundamental science to applied social science and community-driven research; and from computational studies to field-based experiments in remote locations. The University of Colorado is uniquely situated amongst one of the world’s greatest ecosystems of academic institutions and national labs engaged in atmospheric research. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are located within 30 minutes of CU-Boulder.
Hannigan, Henze, Milford, Miller, Daily, Hamlington, Rieker
Satellite observations and adjoint air quality modeling for integration of climate impacts into design of ozone and aerosol control strategies.
Community-based study of indoor air quality, residential energy efficiency, and respiratory health in homes across Colorado.
Using next generation air quality monitoring tools to explore the real world performance and adoption of improved cooking technology in Sub Saharan Africa, with the goal of reducing air pollutant exposures and the related negative health impacts.
Investigation of the energy system and emissions implications of advances in electric vehicle performance and cost reductions.
Regional-scale open path laser sensing to pinpoint methane leak locations around oil and gas operations.
Using high-resolution computational simulations to understand the emissions and environmental impacts of prescribed burns for wildland fire mitigation.
Biomechanical engineering is a field which employs quantitative methods in physics, chemistry and biology to develop innovative medical technologies. At CU, we draw from our strengths in biomechanics – the application of classical and quantum mechanics to analyze biological systems – and product design to tackle current and emerging medical challenges, including those in the areas of biomaterials, tissue engineering, imaging and theranostics.
Borden, Ferguson, Hertzberg, Murray, Neu, Rentschler, Tan, Vernerey
Biomechanics of lipid monolayers
Mechanics of bio-inspired materials and active soft matter
Microbubbles for intravenous oxygenation and cancer gene therapy
Multi-scale musculoskeletal tissue biomechanics, mechanobiology, & regeneration
Reproductive tissue bioengineering
Surgical robots for endoscopy
Surgical tool device design
Theranostic agents for MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery
Ultrasound molecular imaging of tumor response to therapy
Vascular tissue engineering
Mechanics of materials is an area focusing on quantitative description of the motion and deformation of solid materials subjected to forces, temperature changes, electrical voltage or other external stimuli. At CU, we apply theoretical modeling, computational simulation and experimental characterization to study a wide range of soft materials, from biological tissues and gels to smart polymers. Our applications cover a long list of current and emerging technologies including tissue engineering, membrane filtration, stretchable electronics, smart materials, medical robots, and innovative surgical devices.
Yifu Ding, Martin Dunn, Virginia Ferguson, Christoph Keplinger, Rong Long, Mark Rentschler, Jianliang Xiao, Franck Verneray
Computational mechanics of soft colloidal particles
Multiscale modeling of growth in engineered tissues
Mechanics of stretchable electronics
Smart surface wrinkling
Fracture and damage mechanics in soft materials
Highly Stretchable, self-healing elastomers
Stretch dependence of the electrical breakdown strength of elastomers
Continuum mechanics of soft adaptable polymers
Poro-thermo-mechanical modeling of soft tissue for surgical fusion
Adhesive and frictional contact mechanics of micro-structured surface and soft tissue
Mechanics of reconfigurable, smart polymer particles and surfaces
Materials program offers students a mixture of high quality education and cutting-edge research. Faculty members carry out research in many different areas including polymers, thin films, soft actuators, battery materials, laser ultrasonics, flash sintering, nanomaterials for energy, heat transfer, and meta materials. Graduate students have ample opportunities to choose to specialize in various aspects of materials science and engineering.
Yifu Ding, Steven George, Christoph Keplinger, Sehee Lee, Todd Murray, Rishi Raj, Conrad Stoldt, Ronggui Yang, Xiaobo Yin
Instabilities of Polymer Nanostructures
Molecular Layer Deposition of Polymers
Bioinspired Soft Actuators
An Ultra High Energy, Safe and Low Cost All Solid-State Rechargeable Battery for EVs
Negative refraction and focusing of elastic Lamb waves at an interface
Lithium-ion trapping from local structural distortions in NASICON electrolytes
Modeling and Simulation of Nanoscale Thermal and Thermoelectric Transport
Materials in the Flatland: graphene and beyond
Research involves micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) for transducers, sensors, and actuators. Atomic, nano, and micro fabrication technologies and advanced packaging are strengths. Visible, active programs are also underway in nano and microscale characterization, simulation, and design of materials.
Victor Bright, Yifu Ding, Steven George, Sehee Lee, Y. C. Lee, Jianliang Xiao, Ronggui Yang
Carbon nanotube technology for microsystems
Micro heat pipe technology
Nanoscale and ultrafast thermal sciences
Thermoelectric devices and materials
Electrochemical phenomena in microsysytems
Microfluidics for manipulation of chemical and biological species
Atomistic and molecular modeling of structure, transport, and mechanical behavior
Multifunctional energy harvesting and storage devices
Atomic layer thin-film deposition for MEMS/NEMS
Mechanics of nanoscale materials and systems
Nanostructured polymers for smart materials and separation applications
Robotics and systems design research focuses on identifying fundamental principles and methodologies that enable engineered systems to exhibit intelligent, goal-oriented behavior, and developing innovative instruments to monitor, control and manipulate systems. Faculty and students participate in several major sponsored research centers, including the Army’s Micro Autonomous Science and Technology (MAST) CTA, and the AFOSR Center of Excellence on Nature-Inspired Flight Technologies and Ideas (NIFTI). Research in the Robotics and Systems Design Area typically leverages three core competencies in service to diverse needs in such areas as healthcare, security, education, space and ocean exploration, and autonomous systems in air, land, and underwater. These three core competencies are:
Methodologies for understanding natural and engineered system behavior through physical modeling, identification and estimation
Technologies for sensors and distributed sensor networks; embedded systems; actuators and energy transducers; and novel architectures for monitoring, processing and communication of information
Fundamental theories and methodologies for analyzing, synthesizing, and controlling complex systems; learning and adapting to unknown environments; and autonomous behavior
Sean Humbert, Christoph Keplinger, Mark Rentschler
Robotic capsule endoscopy automation
Surgical robot mechanical design for autonomous endoscopy
Traction, adhesion, and dynamic modeling for in vivo robotic locomotion
Insect-inspired visual perception and visuomotor control for navigation
Mechanosensory feedback for disturbance rejection and flight in gusty environments
Bio-inspired electrosensory and hydrodynamic arrays for underwater perception and navigation
High speed videography for measurement of insect body and wing kinematics during gusts
Computational fluid dynamic models for insect flight
Localization for MARS-based autonomous aerial mapping platforms
Bio-inspired heading estimation based on atmospheric scattering
Hazard detection and collision avoidance for satellite inspection robots
Stability augmentation using artificial hair sensor arrays
Infrared proximity sensing for degraded visibility missions
Self-healing artificial muscle actuators
Stretchable ionics for transparent sensors and actuators
Thermal-fluids research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is focused on a wide range of both fundamental and applied problems related to energy conversion, heat and mass transfer, combustion, and fluid mechanics. Experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches are used to study thermal-fluids phenomena covering an enormous range of scales, from heat transport at micro and nano scales to the properties of the atmosphere and ocean over many kilometers.
Melvyn Branch (emeritus), John Daily, Peter Hamlington, Jean Hertzberg, David Kassoy (emeritus), Frank Kreith (emeritus), Nicole Labbe, Baowen Li, John Pellegrino, Greg Rieker, Oleg Vasilyev, Patrick Weidman (emeritus), and Ronggui Yang.
Micro/nano heat transfer and energy conversion
Chemical kinetics and combustion
Cardiac fluid dynamics
Laser diagnostics for fluid and combustion systems
Computational fluid dynamics for both reacting and non-reacting flows
Multiscale modeling and simulation
The use of wavelets for modeling and simulation
Renewable energy generation via a variety of technologies