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Newton's Pendulum

Research & Initiatives

We are working at the boundary of disciplines across engineering (mechanics), chemistry (MOFs), and physics (nanofluidics). We combine them together and currently focus on the Energy Absorption of Nanoporous Materials, which is a new field that creates new bridges between these disciplines, and between research and innovation. 

Research Focus

Credit: thinkingvisually

Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) offer extremely small pores that are comparable to the size of water molecules, squeezing liquid water into its hydrophobic nanopores can create large solid-liquid interfaces and dissipate huge mechanical energy. Flexible MOFs can also have structural transitions under mechanical pressure to absorb energy. Energy absorption through such mechanisms is amplified by the large surface area and porosity, leading to much higher efficiency than conventional materials. 

Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and Nanoporous Materials​

 

We are interested in nanoporous materials such as MOFs, COFs, zeolites, and silica. These materials have pore sizes down to the nanometre and are known for their ultra-high internal surface area: one gram of MOF material, its surface area can cover an entire football pitch!

Our works involve the synthesis, characterisation, and engineering of nanoporous materials for applications in the mechanical engineering discipline, in contrast to their transitional uses in chemical-related areas. We work on such materials with different crystal sizes and in different forms such as powder, monolith, and composites. We are particularly interested in how these materials behave under mechanical pressure, e.g. high-pressure water adsorption, forced structural transition, and framework collapse.

Nanofluidics and Nanofluids

Conventional fluid mechanics breaks down at the nanoscale, especially under molecular-scale confinement. How to investigate and control the liquid flow in a nanoconfined space has been a compelling knowledge gap. Our research in this area is both curiosity-driven and application-guided: the extraordinary liquid transport behaviour in a nanospace usually leads to unprecedented engineering performances and ground-breaking technologies.

Currently, we are mainly focusing on the energy-related phenomenon from the nanofluidic process of water, ion, and liquid mixtures. Meanwhile we are also interested in the fundamental physical properties of nanofluids, i.e., colloidal suspensions of nanoparticles in a base fluid.

Impact and Dynamic Mechanics

 

We study the high strain rate deformation of materials and structures, using state-of-art experimental mechanics (e.g. split-Hopkinson-bar, dynamic mechanical analyser) combined with in-situ diagnostics as well as advanced simulation techniques such as the finite element method. We are particularly interested in developing highly efficient energy absorption materials and composites to attenuate mechanical impact, vibration, and blast, and contributing to the resilience and safety of our society.

Problems we have investigated so far include the failure of polymer laminated glasses under the mechanical impact, the crushing of lightweight structures such as metallic thin-walled structures and elastomeric cellular structures, and the nanofluidic energy absorption systems. We also have a track record in vehicle safety research (e.g. vehicle crashworthiness, pedestrian protection, road accident investigation and reconstruction) and an interest in human head and brain injury prevention in sports and other scenarios.

Acknowledgement

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