James Gibert receives NSF CAREER grant for smart materials

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded James Gibert a 5-year $600,000 CAREER grant, one of their most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty.
James Gibert's NSF CAREER grant focuses on developing smart materials, which use elastomeric sensing to give real-time feedback on vibration and deformation.

Gibert, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, studies vibrations and nonlinear dynamics, incorporating manufacturing and sensing. He's worked with the NSF before, studying triboelectric generators. "Triboelectrics basically harvest the power of static electricity," said Gibert. "Using just vibrations, we can generate enough electricity to embed sensors or other electronics into cardboard boxes, to make them truly smart packaging, or self-sensing vibration damping systems."

"The overall goal of this CAREER project is to investigate the physics, and establish a mathematical foundation, that governs the interplay between topology and nonlinear and time-dependent material behavior in heterogeneous mechanical metamaterials," he said. "We plan to fill a fundamental knowledge gap in the combination of materials that are elastic and viscoelastic, which we hypothesize will have new strain responses as a metamaterial."

In addition to the theoretical work, Gibert is also looking forward to building experiments as part of an educational outreach program. "I always have the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in academia," said Gibert. "Marginalized students are often placed in less rigorous mathematics courses. But I plan to engage students with experiential activities, so they can understand how mathematics can be applied in a real-world context."


Writer: Jared Pike, jaredpike@purdue.edu, 765-496-0374