Welcome to the website of Professor Ahmed Elbanna’s research group at UIUC. Our research focuses on identifying fundamental mechanisms of toughness and resilience in complex natural materials such as biological tissues and granular systems, and to leverage this knowledge, combined with mathematical optimization techniques, to come up with engineered material and system designs that are lighter, stronger and tougher.
A major theme in this endeavor is to understand the (nonlinear) dynamics of order/disorder evolution in these systems under different loading and environmental conditions and to draw connections between the degree of disorder and concepts like robustness, optimality and fragility (fracture susceptibility) which play a crucial role in material design. A complementary research direction focuses on investigating connections between pattern design (e,g, distribution of inhomogeneities, and tailoring of interfacial properties including self-healing effects) and tunability of mechanical response (e.g. controlling fracture toughness and resilience).
To address these challenging topics we use a variety of theoretical techniques stemming from non-equilibrium statistical thermodynamics (shear transformation zone theory), computational mechanics (finite element and boundary integral methods), optimization theory (topology optimization) and nonlinear dynamics (stability analysis, reduced order models and chaos theory). For more information, please refer to the Research and Publications sections of this website.