Welcome to the Chawla Research Group at Purdue University

Our group focuses on the fundamental relationship between structure and performance in a wide range of materials systems. Experiments on these topics are made particularly impactful by a unique specialization in four-dimensional materials science. Our 4D approach uses non-destructive tomography to add a fourth dimension, time, to 3D measurements and analysis. This element of time is essential to processes such as plastic deformation, crack growth, and corrosion. Thus, our work on structural alloys, lead-free solder, and polymeric and biological materials can reveal the essential mechanisms behind key mechanical behaviors.

About Dr. Chawla

Nikhilesh Chawla is Ransburg Professor of Materials Engineering in the School of Materials Engineering and Co-Director of Semiconductor Degree Programs at Purdue University. He joined Purdue in 2020, after previously serving as Founding Director of the Center for 4D Materials Science and Fulton Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Arizona State University. Prof. Chawla received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1997.  He was a postdoctoral fellow jointly at Ford Motor Company and the University of Michigan, and a senior development engineer at Hoeganaes Corporation.  In 2023 he served as Acting Head of the School of Materials Engineering at Purdue.


Prof. Chawla’s research is in the area Four-Dimensional (4D) materials science, with a particular emphasis on the deformation behavior of advanced materials at bulk and small length scales. He has co-authored over 300 refereed journal publications (Web of Science h-index of 55; Google Scholar h-index of 66) and over 500 presentations in these areas.  He has over 16,000 citations to his work. He is the author of the textbook Metal Matrix Composites (co-authored with K.K. Chawla), published by Springer. The 2nd edition of this book was published in 2013.


Prof. Chawla is a fellow of ASM International and past member of The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) Board of Directors. He is the recipient of the Innovation in Materials Characterization Award (Materials Research Society, 2024), Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer Award (2022-2023), University of Michigan Department of Materials Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2018, Acta Materialia Silver Medal for 2017, and New Mexico Tech Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2016. In addition, he was named 2016 Structural Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, as well as the 2016 Functional Materials Division Distinguished Scientist/Engineering Award, both from TMS; 2013 Brimacombe Medalist Award from TMS; 2011 Distinguished Lectureship given by Tsinghua University, China; 2004 Bradley Stoughton Award for Young Teachers, given by ASM International; and the 2006 TMS Young Leaders Tutorial Lecture. He’s also won the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award.


Prof. Chawla was an editor for Materials Science and Engineering A published by Elsevier between 2012-2023 (2022 Impact Factor of 6.4). He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Materials Characterization and Materials Chemistry and Physics. He has served or is serving on several external advisory boards, including that of Naval Research Laboratory, the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, and New Mexico Tech.