Jackie Li does research on the cutting edge of materials science. She is interested in composite materials, smart materials and structures, nano-materials, and micro/nano-mechanics. Under her CAREER grant, she is doing basic research in ferroelectrics and their composites. Ferroelectric ceramics and composites are one of the major families of smart materials, with wide applications in electromechanical transducers, such as ultrasonic generators, filters, sensors, and actuators.
Over the course of her grant, Dr. Li has conducted analytical and experimental investigations on nonlinear electromechanical coupling behavior of ferroelectrics and their composites by considering the microstructure of their systems. Her object was the development of a predictive methodology of this coupling behavior. The analytical prediction involved micromechanics of heterogeneous materials, evolution of microstructures, irreversible thermodynamics, and physics of domain switch. Dr. Li started her experiments testing PZT samples and PZT composites under mechanical loading or/and electric field.
“This is a complex problem which involves both electric and mechanical properties of materials,” says Dr. Li. “Understanding and accurately describing the nonlinear behavior of a ferroelectric material due to the domain switch will lead to the improvement of design methodologies in smart materials and structures using ferroelectrics. What I wanted to accomplish through my basic research, was to develop a simple methodology which does not sacrifice accuracy and will provide guidance to engineers in their design work.”
Dr. Li says that her CAREER award has opened the door to future research projects. Next, she plans to tackle ferroelectric materials in nanoscale.
Since coming to City College, Dr. Li, who earned her doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers University, has set up a lab which is a hub of both research and teaching. “I love the mix of students here,” she says. “They range from young people straight out of high school to mature students who are starting over in mechanical engineering. And, they are from all over the world. What they have in common is their enthusiasm. They really want to expose themselves to research.”Dr. Li has designed two new graduate level courses in nano/micromechanics and physical properties of materials for mechanical engineering seniors and graduate students. And, she has been integrating her CAREER research into undergraduate research projects. She has upgraded the undergraduate materials science curriculum to include the concepts of ferroelectrics and ferroelectric composites, and hands-on experiences in measurement of electromechanical coupling behavior of ferroelectrics
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