Phonon Engineering in Thin-Film Energetic Materials

Interdisciplinary Areas: Future Manufacturing, Micro-, Nano-, and Quantum Engineering

Project Description

Combustion and propulsion using energetic materials play important roles in defense and national security, space applications, renewable energy, and more. Some energetic materials are also electroactive (piezoelectric, flexoelectric, ferroelectric, etc.). The mechanical, thermal, and reactive properties of energetic materials must be understood and engineered at the microscale for successful, safe, and secure deployment across this application space. In addition, multifunctional capabilities could be exploited if a more fundamental understanding is obtained. This project focuses on the design, fabrication, and characterization of enhanced energetic, thin films to manipulate elastic waves within the medium. Key goals include engineering acoustic control of reaction initiation and detonation, managing localized heat generation and flow, and embedding physical sensors for real-time monitoring and triggering. This research effort sits at the intersection of energetic materials, phononic crystal design, microscale fabrication and additive manufacturing, and microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors. We will leverage existing expertise and infrastructure for the manufacturing and characterization of engineered explosives, as well as expertise in phonon engineering, acoustic resonators, and MEMS for rapid innovation in bringing new functionality to energetic materials.


Start Date

January, 2024


Postdoc Qualifications

Background in materials science, mechanical engineering, and/or microelectronics is preferred. The project will require analytical and finite element multiphysics modeling, design and optimization, fabrication, and characterization. Mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students, grant writing, and strong communication skills are also sought.

U.S. Citizenship is not a requirement.



Prof. Dana Weinstein,, Electrical & Computer Engineering,

Prof. Steve Son,, Mechanical Engineering,


Short Bibliography

1. J. Anderson, Y. He, B. Bahr, and D. Weinstein, “Integrated acoustic resonators in commercial fin field-effect transistor technology,” Nat. Electron., vol. 5, no. 9, pp. 611–619, Sep. 2022, doi: 10.1038/s41928-022-00827-6.

2. Y. He, B. Bahr, M. Si, P. Ye, and D. Weinstein, “A tunable ferroelectric based unreleased RF resonator,” Microsyst. Nanoeng., vol. 6, no. 1, p. 8, Dec. 2020, doi: 10.1038/s41378-019-0110-1.

3. G. A. Montoya, W. W. Chapman, J. R. Lawrence, T. R. Salyer, and S. F. Son, “Effects of sub-mm cylindrical voids on detonation performance in PBX 9501,” Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, Vol. 161, p. 107351, 2023.

4. D. K. Messer, J. H. Shin, M. Örnek, T. A. Hafner, M. Zhou, and S. F. Son, “Effects of flexoelectric and piezoelectric properties on the impact-driven ignition sensitivity of P (VDF-TrFE)/nAl films,” Combustion and Flame, Vol. 242, p. 112181, 2022.

5. M. Örnek, K. E. Uhlenhake, Y. Zhou, B. Zhang, M. Kalaswad, D. N. Collard, H. Wang, Q. Wang, S. F. Son, “Preparation and characterization of multifunctional piezoenergetic polyvinylidene fluoride/aluminum nanocomposite films,” Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 131(5), 2022.