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Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar

Thursday, March 3, 2022
11:00am to 12:00pm
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Gates-Thomas 135
Mechanistic Insights into Crystalline Interfaces via Thermal Fluctuations
Yashashree Kulkarni, Bill D. Cook Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston,

Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar Series

Title: Mechanistic Insights into Crystalline Interfaces via Thermal Fluctuations

Interfaces such as grain boundaries are ubiquitous in crystalline materials and have provided a fertile area of research over decades. Their importance stems from the numerous critical phenomena associated with them, such as grain boundary sliding, migration, and interaction with other defects that govern the mechanical properties of materials. Although these crystalline interfaces exhibit small out-of-plane fluctuations, statistical thermodynamics of membranes has been effectively used to extract relevant physical quantities such as the interface free energy, grain boundary stiffness, and interfacial mobility.

In this talk, I will put forward the viewpoint that monitoring thermal fluctuations of crystalline interfaces by way of molecular dynamics can serve as a computational microscope for gaining insights into the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of grain boundaries and present a rich source of future study. In particular, the talk will present how we use thermal fluctuations to estimate the grain boundary stiffness and mobility of grain boundaries by modeling them as Brownian particles.

Bio: Yashashree Kulkarni is the Bill D. Cook Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Houston. She received her bachelor's degree from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India, and her Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics from Caltech where she worked on multi-scale modeling of materials. She was a postdoctoral scholar at University of California San Diego before joining the University of Houston as an Assistant Professor in 2009. Her research interests focus on atomistic simulations and multi-scale modeling of material response, and elucidating deformation mechanisms in nanostructured materials for novel structural applications. She currently serves as an associate editor for the ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics. She has been the recipient of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (2010), the Bill D. Cook Professorship (UH, 2012-17), Kittinger Teaching Excellence Award (UH, 2016), and the Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award (ASME, 2017).

NOTE: At this time, in-person Mechanical and Civil Engineering Lectures are open to all Caltech students/staff/faculty/visitors with a valid Caltech ID. Outside community members are welcome to join our online webinar.

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Passcode: 654600

For more information, please contact Jenni Campbell by email at [email protected] or visit