Solid Mechanics at the University of Utah
Solid mechanics is a discipline that studies materials and structures and how they deform under load. Broadly, the area interfaces with physics, chemistry, materials science, computational science and engineering.
Approaches vary from continuum to discrete description of material responses. Deterministic and stochastic approaches are used to understand interactions between material elements at different length and time scales. Analytical and computational methods include finite element calculations, molecular dynamics, influence functions, ab-initio calculation, Monte Carlo simulation. These methods are used to link different length and time scales that allow investigators to develop physically based material models, including state variable approaches. Experimental approaches include x-ray diffraction, scanning probe microscopy, optical methods and mechanical testing under a wide range of environmental conditions and size scales from macro to nano.
Mechanics of solids is currently one of the most viable areas of mechanical engineering – from intellectual, technological and funding perspectives. There is new pressure on designers to improve efficiency, lower cost and improve safety and reliability. Invariably such advances occur through improved microstructural design and mechanical characterization of materials and structures that lead to new applications and improve performance. Accurate mathematical representation of the structure-property relations is at the heart of these efforts. To develop these representations faculty and students in solid mechanics work collaboratively to advance the necessary theory, experiments, modeling and computational mechanics and to apply their results to societal needs.